On Valentine’s Day, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers will officially launch NOVL, a new online hub for YA book fans. Hosted on micro-blogging site Tumblr, this interactive community features original content based on Little, Brown’s list of young adult books and authors, including Stephenie Meyer, Daniel Handler, Libba Bray, Chris Colfer, Laini Taylor, Kami Garcia, and Margaret Stohl. The company has also recently refreshed its Web site showcasing its frontlist and backlist YA titles.
NOVL aims to fuel and steer conversation about YA books and encourage readers to share content via various social media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Prominently displayed on the site is NOVL’s manifesto, which includes such tenets as “We believe... Books can be life-changing... Crushes on fictional characters are completely legitimate... That authors are geniuses and rock stars rolled into one.”
The site’s book-centric “infotainment” includes book trailers, novel excerpts, e-book news, guest posts by authors, previews of movies and TV shows based on YA titles, and playlists created by authors and inspired by books. Among the features already posted on NOVL, which had a soft launch last month, are Beautiful Creatures-themed nail art, a close-up look at the Carolina Herrera-designed wedding dress worn by Twilight’s Bella on the movie screen (at l.), outtakes from the photo shoot for the cover of Jennifer Rush’s Altered, and a speculative look at what fashions and accessories the character of Evie from Libba Bray’s The Diviners might sport on a night out on the town.
“Being playful is not a characteristic of NOVL – it is the characteristic,” says Nellie Kurtzman, v-p of marketing for LBYR. “We are trying to get back to the fact that reading is entertainment – that books are the best and original form of entertainment and are pure enjoyment.” She explains that the online initiative grew out of a collaborative in-house effort “that was very much based on brainstorming about what we feel is fun to look at on the Internet. We didn’t just want to feature book covers and links to author Q&As, but wanted more animated and behind-the-scenes content, and have authors contribute original content and talk about things outside of books, to speak to their audience in a different way.”
The decision to build NOVL on the blog-based Tumblr platform was based on that network’s growing popularity among teens, says Kurtzman. “Young adult readers want to consume their entertainment where they live, and right now there is a huge teen presence on Tumblr,” she says. “We want to go where YA readers are, and to talk how they talk.”
Rachel Fershleiser, Tumblr’s director of literary outreach, cites Quantcast statistics that there are currently 94 million blogs in the Tumblr network and 39% of users are between the ages of 13 and 24. “Tumblr is where teens hang out, full stop,” she says. “Recent research said we have the highest percentage of teens using us regularly than any social network and our numbers for ‘time spent’ are consistently high. The community is very into books, and the fan culture around them is artistic and interactive.”
Fershleiser adds that the focus and content of the NOVL initiative is a particularly good match for the Tumblr network. “The team behind NOVL really gets the Tumblr community – the creativity, the interaction, the passion around fandoms – and have worked that into the site,” she says. “NOVL is not just a place to find about about books, but also to find music and fashion ideas that relate to being a reader, and to encourage readers’ own thoughts and creations. It’s a genuine effort to create a place where readers can have fun around books and authors. NOVL’s most popular post to date was reblogged or liked almost 12,000 times.”
The refurbished LB Teens site features social media content from LBYR’s Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest pages, as well as enriched title- and author-specific content and news. “The site has also been completely mobile-enabled for smartphones and tablets,” Kurtzman says. “The Web site is very valuable for retailers or journalists looking to learn about the breadth of our publishing program. Of course for readers between the ages of 10 and 18, it will be much more rewarding and fun to go to the NOVL site.”