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Wednesday News: Penguin settles agency pricing suit with DOJ; YA erotica...

Penguin is introducing Andrea Cremer’s erotic stories based on her Nightshade world in the spring of 2013.

Maybe the market has space for the clean/radio edit and the explicit version but if so, I suspect ratings can’t be far behind. Will the ratings just be for sexual content or also include ratings for violence and other “mature” material?

The language we proposed also raised question about whether your photos can be part of an advertisement. We do not have plans for anything like this and because of that we’re going to remove the language that raised the question. Our main goal is to avoid things like advertising banners you see in other apps that would hurt the Instagram user experience. Instead, we want to create meaningful ways to help you discover new and interesting accounts and content while building a self-sustaining business at the same time.

I suspect that it will be hard for Macmillan to hold out against the DOJ now that Penguin has folded. Pengun’s merger with Random House likely means that Random House will likely abandon agency in the near future as well. (Just my guess there)Digital Book World

“Another audiobook publisher is getting into the print and e-book business. Brilliance Audio will begin publishing hardcover, trade paperbacks and e-book originals next year under the Grand Harbor Press imprint. Grand Harbor will focus on self-help and inspirational categories and will plans to release 10 titles in its first year.”PublishersWeekly

Audible will sponsor the Guardian books homepage, book reviews and books podcast in print and online, though the paper stresses that that means branding and advertising, not editorial input. The companies are also launching ”The Guardian Audio Edition,” a free weekly selection of articles read aloud.paidContent

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She self publishes NA and contemporaries (and publishes with Berkley and Montlake) and spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com


  1. sandy l
    Dec 19, 2012 @ 05:33:27

    Usually I don’t have a problem with erotica, but youth erotica? Shouldn’t the participants at least be of legal age?

  2. Ros
    Dec 19, 2012 @ 05:39:17

    @sandy l: 16 is legal in the UK. It still gives me the creeps, though.

  3. Nadia Lee
    Dec 19, 2012 @ 05:39:21

    Pengun’s merger with Random House likely means that Random House will likely abandon agency in the near future as well. (Just my guess there)

    I think RH probably will have to. According to Pub Lunch:

    As DOJ puts it in their announcement, “Should the proposed joint venture proceed to consummation, the terms of Penguin’s settlement will apply to it.”

  4. Carolyn
    Dec 19, 2012 @ 06:05:57

    Will young people have to be carded now to buy a book? ;-)

  5. KT Grant
    Dec 19, 2012 @ 06:44:42

    But why is there a need to have steamy/explicit sex in YAs? Do steamy sex acts between two teen characters around the ages of 13-17 really further the story along, to have descriptive sex acts like oral sex and other sex positions shown for the reader?

    The next question is, who is the reader for these steamy YAs? I think it’s for the adult audience specifically. I wonder what Jude Blume thinks about being compared to 50 Shades as the article states.

  6. Sasha
    Dec 19, 2012 @ 06:51:21

    YA erotica- no……just no.

  7. Christine M.
    Dec 19, 2012 @ 07:16:48

    Hell, fourteen is legal in Canada. >.<

  8. Carolyne
    Dec 19, 2012 @ 07:37:42

    Is it erotic as in: sharing with young adults of that age level what sexual feelings really feel like, in the context of their own lives and similar to their own experiences…or as in: thin plots as an excuse to show very young people having sex? It seems from the article that the aim is the former. There’s no reason why it can’t further the story, just as in any other erotica, and obviously people under [legal age in jurisdiction] have sexual thoughts and curiosity, even if it squicks and alarms the grown-ups. Depending on how the books are written, they might be only a tiny step from the sort of novels that are already out there in YA , both the denigrated “popular” books and the critically well-received “literary” YA titles.

    I’d certainly read one of these to judge it for myself. But I’d feel very resentful if it turned out to be schlocky, exploitative, or written to serve a leering adult perspective.

    Ratings for violence? No one would even consider that unless there’s an outcry for ratings (as one generally sees on manga) for sexual content. My perspective is skewed from dealing with this on the graphic novel (comics) side, but you can lop off an awful lot of heads before anyone gets worried about the children, as long as you’re sure to cover the cleavage and hide the booze.

  9. Las
    Dec 19, 2012 @ 08:30:25

    I’m not at all bothered with teens reading erotic YA. If this move is meant to appeal to adult readers of YA, however, that’s a whole other issue. Why does a 30 year want to read teens having sex? Come on.

  10. Ros
    Dec 19, 2012 @ 08:31:23

    @KT Grant: I guess you could ask exactly the same question of all erotica, or even any romance with sex scenes. I actually do think that sex scenes can be an important way of furthering plot and character development. And I think it’s important that teens are reading good sex scenes. I have no idea if these books do that.

    But I think you’re right on the money in terms of who is actually creating the demand for YA erotica. And that really, really creeps me out. Adult women, what is the attraction of teen sex? I am still creeped out by the number of adult women who are Team Edward/Jacob/whatever. Pick on someone your own age. Or at least old enough to vote.

  11. Carolyne
    Dec 19, 2012 @ 08:53:35

    @Ros: Maybe the books appeal because it reminds the reader about being that age? And being in those situations? About when life was wide open and unknown? Or the appeal could be simply because it’s a different insight and point of view. Why read about a 40-ish secret agent seducing elaborately-named international ladies, or a teenage Egyptian queen seducing a middle-aged general, if you’re none of those ages or occupations? For me, what will matter is how the individual story is told and how it addresses the presumed target audience, and whether it’s reaching and of interest to that target audience–not, say, the broader question of “why should this exist it all?” Or, “what if the grown-ups read it?” :)

    Isn’t Edward, like, a hundred years old, anyway, therefore more than appropriate for adult women to drool over and (if we’re injecting reality into the fantasy) completely inappropriate for human-Bella? Jacob I suppose really is a teen. I’d rather read a romance about age-appropriate relationships.

  12. Jane
    Dec 19, 2012 @ 09:01:46

    I think a few years ago, I was adamantly against sex in YA, but my feelings have really changed over the years. We can have kids brutally kill each other but have sex with each other? No way! That’s outrageous. We must protect them, right? And by them, we are referring to girls, right?

    As for why adults want explicit teen stories, I think it has less to do with wanting to see teens have sex and more to do with enjoying reading about a time period in life where there weren’t so many responsibilities and every emotion was new and special.

  13. Moriah Jovan
    Dec 19, 2012 @ 09:03:55

    When I was 13, we had all sorts erotic reading material. It was called “Bertrice Small.” *snerk*

  14. Ros
    Dec 19, 2012 @ 09:40:15

    @Jane: That’s a helpful reminder that people read differently. When I read, I’m in the story, not simply observing what’s happening. So I do like to read about heroes that I personally find attractive in some way. I don’t find anything attractive about teenage boys (and to be honest, even as a teenage girl I didn’t). But not everyone reads that way, and so maybe these books can work in ways that wouldn’t work at all for me.

    I think I’m a bit influenced by my years in fandom, which was full of middle-aged women lusting after Daniel Radcliffe and Robert Pattinson (when they were significantly younger than they are now).

  15. Ridley
    Dec 19, 2012 @ 10:09:13

    I’d be all about YA erotica if it was showing teenagers exploring their sexuality in an age-appropriate manner. And when I say “age-appropriate” I don’t mean “sanitized to make adults more comfortable.”

    What teens need are books like Judy Blume’s Forever that show teens exploring sexuality without tying the sex to an HEA. Genre romance’s encroachment on YA has always bothered me in how it wants to pair children up with forever mates. It’s a theme that appeals to adult readers’ fantasies of having found true love without messy dating mistakes, but it doesn’t help a teen navigate the murky waters of teenage sex and dating.

    Look, something like 75% of people have sex by age 18. Teenagers have sex. They deserve books that reflect teenage life while showing them what healthy relationships look like, and your average healthy teenage relationship includes breaking up, moving on and learning about yourself in the process.

  16. Ros
    Dec 19, 2012 @ 10:18:43

    Genre romance’s encroachment on YA has always bothered me in how it wants to pair children up with forever mates.

    YES! I still don’t really understand why YA and romance have become such closely linked genres. Sure, sex and romance are important things to teens, but there’s a lot more to life than that. Are there YA thrillers and mysteries, scifi and fantasy, and all the rest that I just don’t know about?

  17. LG
    Dec 19, 2012 @ 10:47:05

    @Ros: There *are* YA thrillers, fantasy, mysteries, etc. That’s one of the reasons why I hate it when people call YA a genre. It’s not. It’s an intended audience.

  18. Anne
    Dec 19, 2012 @ 11:45:24

    If it’s truly sex-positive (something Blume and Company never were) I’d welcome this, but the sample alone already tells me it’s low of quality and a quite stodgy fantasy. I see no reason to expect anything up to the topic or the intended audience.

  19. Carolyne
    Dec 19, 2012 @ 12:05:45

    In a YA paranormal romance series I contributed to, out of 11 books total, the breakdown is 1 HEA, 4 HFNs, and 6 break-ups. And the sole HEA is a special circumstance of the characters’ paranormal status (not vampires, though). The editors did worry about whether reviewers would object to so many of the romances having “downer” endings, but the readers don’t seem to mind–reading about how things aren’t necessarily going to be forever-and-ever-love with your first boyfriend seems to strike a chord.

    Only a couple of these books even remotely brush against the topic of sexual feelings or actual intimacy, and reviewers are classifying them as middle readers (ages 10-14 tops). So I think there is an instinctive sense that, to reach the YA audience, to give them real-feeling stories that help them process their own experiences, you’ll have to include some of those experiences.

    As to how “titillatingly” that should be portrayed…it might have been helpful when I was a YA to hear more about the range of what’s normal from a sympathetic character in an interesting story.

    The most sexually explicit books I read as a teen were about dragonriders, elf orgies, vicious rapes in a male-dominated fantasy world, Heinlein science fiction, and sneaking a peek at some “adult” (pretty pornographic) books on the parents’ shelves. I think I’d have been a lot better off with some books targeted to my own age range, across a variety of genre interests. So…I’m more and more getting on board with this idea.

  20. Carolyne
    Dec 19, 2012 @ 12:15:42

    @Anne: I haven’t read a sample yet, but your comment inspires me along the lines of “be the change you want to see in the world,” maybe to try and write in this direction. Reading this thread (and commenting and commenting) has helped me solidify some of my thoughts about this topic. I have many thoughts that are still wobbly.

    (I’d have appended this to my previous comment, but the browser on the tablet doesn’t let me edit.)

  21. Anne
    Dec 19, 2012 @ 12:55:10


    Actually the break-ups are the rule in the books I read, and not the exception. Girls getting of course pregnant from first time sex, having to get an abortion, being ostracised, boys dropping them like hot potatoes the next moment, parents walking in on the couples, religious nuttery, no sexual enjoyment, girls called sluts and slut-shamed, rape, assault – you name it, it’s all there.

    If you go by this it’s a downright wonder teenagers aren’t terrified into joining a holy order first thing.

  22. Keishon
    Dec 19, 2012 @ 13:23:06

    YA Erotica – not my interest at all.

    I am drawn to writers who explore cultural differences and show how one can respect and understand them. I also tend to enjoy stories of self-identity, understanding the consequences of one’s actions. Good ole social issues aren’t all bad either. I’m not averse to sexual content in teen novels. I think the story and characters should dictate how explicit the sex should be (and you can extrapolate that further). Lastly, I enjoy good ole angst. Authors who serve that up to my satisfaction are C.K. Kelly Martin and Melina Marchetta to name a few of the contemporary writers of YA fiction.

  23. Amber Peart
    Dec 19, 2012 @ 14:40:37

    Ugh. That publisher seems to be saying “Kids are gonna read smut anyway, we may as well publish it for them.” And comparing their books to Blume? I mean, Forever was not about sex. It just had sex in it.

  24. Susan
    Dec 19, 2012 @ 16:54:14

    Yay on the Penguin settlement. I have so many Penguin books on my wish list, hoping that the prices will drop even just a bit.

  25. Carrie G
    Dec 19, 2012 @ 17:16:32

    I think there is a big difference between sexual exploration in YA books, and YA erotica. If erotica is defined the same way it is for the “adult” books, I see absolutely no place for YA erotica. If writers are exploring teen sexuality in a way that realistic, I doubt it would be “erotic” very often. Honest presentation of sex in YA books would have more about discovery, trial and error, and even embarrassment and failure than anything “erotic.” I’ll admit to not being 100% comfortable with my young teens reading books with explicit sex, and I’d probably preread them so I could discuss the issues (which i do for violence in teen books already). But I do see that if well handled it could be a blessing for middle and older teens to encounter realistic portrayals of sexual relationships, both those that work out positively (and I’m not talking “forever HEA” here) and those that don’t. But when Erotic and YA are used in the same sentence, it makes me queasy.

  26. Ann Somerville
    Dec 19, 2012 @ 19:10:04

    A friend of mine had to leave the YA GLBT group on Goodreads because she was sickened by the adult writers (of adult m/m) invading the group and promoting YA erotica, and complaining about the lack of sexy times in YA GLBT books.

    So while it would be nice to think YA erotica will be read by YA readers and done in an age appropriate and sensitive way a la Blume, I suspect this is just a way of pandering to adult readers with adult tastes, who want to have their paedophilia cake and eat it too (while maintaining plausible deniability.)

    Would be pleased to be proved wrong, of course.

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