April 3, 2009
New York — Marlene Perez’s “Dead Is the New Black” is a young adult novel with a noirish pink and black cover and a supernatural plot. If it ever becomes the next sensation, give some credit to middle-schoolers such as Geneva Lish.
“It has an unusual plot and a unique power,” says Lish, a seventh-grader.
Lish didn’t buy the book online or at a store. She was among the students at J.H.S. 167 in Manhattan who recently visited the Scholastic Book fair, shopping in the school’s auditorium as they looked through graphic novels, fantasy and a Life magazine volume about President Obama.
During a hard time for publishing and education, the fairs remain a relatively stable source of income. According to a recent report from Scholastic Corp., revenue from fairs for the nine months ending Feb. 28 was $261.2 million, virtually unchanged from the same nine-month period a year earlier.
“I’ve never met one parent who said, ‘My kid has too many books.’ . . . You might cut a lot of things out. You might cut out a toy. You’re not going to cut out a book,” says Scholastic’s president of book fairs, Alan Boyko.
Book fairs have been around for decades, although the field now is largely controlled by Scholastic.
The publisher says its business has grown from about 8,000 annual fairs in the early 1980s to about 120,000 fairs expected this year.