#SYP2020: Children’s Publishing in 2020.

BLOG KIRSTINThe final countdown is on to our inaugural conference 2020: A Publishing Odyssey. So, we wanted to know what people thought different areas of the publishing world will (or should) be like come 2020. Kirstin Lamb looks to the future of children’s publishing in the last of our pre-conferenece series.

Things are changing in children’s publishing.

We are experiencing an unprecedented move towards more diversity and inclusion, in both the content of the books and the people behind the scenes who make them happen. Formerly taboo themes or suppressed subjects are being pulled to the fore for free and frank discussion, examined anew in our age of inclusiveness. We have heard the rallying call to ensure illustrators and artists to be recognised more fully and openly. We are fighting a campaign to Save Our Libraries, which provide a service now more important than ever.

Suffice to say that our sector churns out its share of enterprising folk.

I would love to say that we could extrapolate all this out and safely predict that children’s publishing in 2020 will be the most inclusive, thought-provoking, boundary-pushing market in the business. However, without getting all gloomy about it, chances are that we’ll still be pushing these causes and talking about these issues as much then as we do now. And that’s great to an extent – things wouldn’t change if we just gave up when we didn’t get anywhere – but I also think it speaks to a larger problem for the future of children’s publishing: it just isn’t taken ‘seriously’ in a wider context.

I find the people in children’s publishing to be some of the most inspiring and passionate I’ve ever met (as well as just generally the loveliest). Their arguments and beliefs are widely-held across the industry. Yet the conversations are had over and over again until we’re blue in the face, and that’s the issue – these conversations are being had in a vacuum. There is little to no broaching the wider spheres of publishing. It’s frustrating and ultimately, limiting. Until there’s some kind of recognition from outside the children’s sector for all the work being done and the discussion being had, it’ll keep cycling around.

So here’s my hope for children’s publishing in 2020, even if I can’t go so far as to make it a prediction: that the industry garners some kind of recognition on a household level, and that support . Even as I write this, there’s great strides being made in the instances of children’s book reviews in the mainstream press thanks to some headstrong individuals in an attempt to even the output vs. coverage between children’s and other sectors – another accolade that can be listed among the achievements at the start of this post! – and as long as we continue down this trajectory and break through some prejudices and preconceived notions, I have higher hopes for the changes that the children’s industry can wrought.

As for an actual solid prediction for 2020 – the YA market will see an upsurge in comedy and humour. Dark and gritty has had its moment in the sun over the last few years, but it’s now saturated. Depending on how our hopes pan out, maybe we’ll need the light relief!

Kirstin Lamb has worked at Edinburgh-based children’s publisher Barrington Stoke since 2012, and is now Publishing and Rights Manager.

This is the final blog in our series as our conference is tomorrow! There’s still a few places left. Book your place over here.


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