Graphic novels in your YA collection
I originally had (something like) this scheduled to post last week, then I took another look at it and said to myself, “Trisha, you are really wordy in this post, even more rambly than usual, when the most important part is actually the last paragraph and there are some 700 or so other words that don’t matter as much.” Then, going through some of my RSS feeds, I read this post from The Reader’s Advisor Online blog, and this section in particular poses part 1 of what I was trying to ask:
Where does it go? Books, bless them, are actual tangible items that must physically rest in one place on our shelves. And wherever a book does go, we also have to work out a way for finding it again, which is where Dewey Decimal and Guys who Deal with Medical Reference come in. But, and here’s the twist: readers’ advisors not only have to know about the book, and where the book goes, but also how to get that book to readers who might enjoy it (who may or may not be readers who regularly browse the Medical Reference shelves).
Substitute Medical Reference with manga, graphic novels, or light novels and that’s part of what I want to know. Should I put the Artemis Fowl graphic novel with the graphic novels or in regular YA fiction with the rest of Colfer’s books? What about Shannon Hale’s Rapunzel’s Revenge? Skim by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki? But these are decisions regarding individual books and I’m also interested in the larger picture. You can pick up a couple of books and decide where you’re going to put each one, but how do you maintain consistency in these decisions across a larger number of books?
The bigger question, then, is how would I create consistency in these shelving decisions? I don’t want to be arbitrary, and I think making shelving decisions purely based on potential circulation is arbitrary, but I also don’t want some of these GNs that are tougher sells than your typical superhero GN or shōjo/shōnen manga to languish on the shelf. What I do want to be is consistent. As a librarian, I want consistency so that people know, this is where you’ll find books of that type. I have no problem with shelving some prose fiction by series. For example, the Students Across the Seven Seas books. I can justify putting them together on logical, concrete grounds: they’re branded in the sense that the S.A.S.S series name is on the books and the covers have the same look, the individual books are written by different authors, and they’re published on a regular basis. Making a decision on based solely on where I think an item will circulate best ? That seems so capricious. But is consistency not as important as putting a graphic novel—particularly one like Skim—or a light novel where the most people who would be interested in borrowing it will find it, and who cares what this means for consistency?
For any librarians/library school students, I’ve saved the, let me see, six paragraphs that originally preceded this and basically cover how my collection development philosophy regarding the subject has adapted. You can read them below the cut. And, even if you’re not a librarian, I’d love to hear your thoughts regarding the above questions.
How do you treat them in your YA section? Specifically, how do you handle the graphic novel adaptations of prose novels (e.g., Coraline, Artemis Fowl) and graphic novels written by authors whose backlist is comprised of prose novels (e.g. Shannon Hale and Rapunzel’s Revenge, Cecil Castellucci’s two Plain Janes books)? Alternatively, what about light novels? Do you put them with manga or regular YA fiction?
With the manga adaptations of Darren Shan’s Cirque du Freak series coming out this year, as well as the Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya novels, this topic has been on my mind recently. (Aha, it’s all because of you, Yen Press and Little, Brown!) I used to be very strict about putting graphic novels in their own section, but, especially after the demise of Minx, I’m starting to rethink things.
One of the things that multiple bloggers commented on regarding Minx is that (they think) it would have done better in YA fiction sections, NOT with graphic novels, where, apparently, it was shelved in bookstores. In my library, I have the Minx books with the graphic novels, and so these comments did make me rethink why I put them with the rest of there to begin with.
Originally, it was for consistency. I figured, since I already had a graphic novel section, it made sense to put all graphic novels together. A person looking for a graphic novel could just head there to find what they’re looking for. But then…what about the browsers? Someone who might not know that, yes, they really do want to read Graphic Novel A by Author B because they liked Prose Novel C? Or the Artemis Fowl fan who has already read the entire series but had no idea the graphic novel existed and who would be interested in reading it if only he knew about it, so he can see what Holly, Foaly, and Mulch look like? Would they know to look with the graphic novels?
Now, I’m starting to really think about these questions first instead of automatically putting everything with the graphic novels. I’m saying, Wait, I think this would do better with the regular fiction. Should I put it there or with the graphic novels? I haven’t yet gone back and moved older books out of the graphic novel section, though I’m considering doing so. Which I guess solves the Cirque du Freak question. But what about the other way? Actually, I have been putting light novels with the manga originals, figuring they would circulate better there, so I’m not sure why it’s taken so long for me to do come to the same conclusion about prose originals and GN/manga adaptations.
Now that I’ve got that figured out, where does this leave me with the various Minx titles and other non-superhero GNs? I could put the two Plain Janes GNs with the rest of Castellucci’s books, but where would the Minx books that weren’t written by prose authors go? Should I just say forget it, GNs only go into regular fiction if I already have a book by the author in the regular fiction section? I don’t want to create a special Minx section, especially since the line has already been discontinued. But then, there are some graphic novels I think would circ better out of the graphic novel section, written by authors who don’t have the same fiction backlist as Castellucci, Hale, et al. I’m tempted to move Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki’s Skim from the graphic novels to regular fiction because of this. I have it with my fiction new books right now and am pleasantly surprised by how well it’s circulated there, but once it moves from the new book section, I don’t think it’ll circ as well with the graphic novels. If I did move it from the GNs, should I then to put Emiko Superstar by Mariko Tamaki with the regular fiction so the two books can be shelved together?