I’ve tried many times to write a post about #CoverKidsBooks many times. My blogging interface reports I’ve made 25 revisions to this post. I’ve tried and failed every time, but I think now is an appropriate time to talk about why #CoverKidsBooks matters so much.
Just over a week ago, I received the news that The Guardian has taken the decision to fold it’s children’s books coverage into the main Guardian books site, meaning that the Children’s Books Site which has been running for five years is no longer going to be updated as of the 8th July.
This is a really big blow for the campaign, but it’s going to cause a bigger blow for an even bigger reason.
Back in mid-2014, I stumbled across the site by chance. It had honestly been ages since I’d read a book leading up to then, and I’m not sure what led me to send back my sign up form. I’d never written about a book before, I wasn’t even aware that such a community around books really even existed. But it did, and I sent back my form. And it was an amazing decision.
Anyone that’s been a member of the site can tell you it opens loads and loads of doors and it offered a platform that is simply incomparable: nothing else exists quite like it.
Many people are going to miss it for their own reasons, and I have my own reasons why I will miss the site, but I think that the site really has a bigger reason why it’s definitely going to be missed.
Since the site was launched five years ago, it’s been a place exclusively for children’s books on the internet. It’s been a go to destination for anyone who wants to know more about children’s books, and wants to know more about what’s to come. When people say there is nothing else quite like it, there really isn’t. This was one of the amazing exceptions to the rule that the #CoverKidsBooks campaign keeps saying; where children’s books account for around a third of the market share, the site gave children’s books 100% of coverage. It recognised how important children’s books really are, and it was able to connect to the readers of children’s books themselves, who undeniably engaged with the site. I was/am one of these proud members of the site, and in the final newsletter every member was sent, they estimated that around 5000 reviews had gone live from members over the five years it had been in existence. That’s reviews alone.
It’s now going, and there’s no real knowledge of how that is going to affect coverage of children’s books, or how it will affect children’s books in general, not just talking about them. There’s a gaping hole being left by the site now leaving us, and whilst I am certainly glad The Guardian is pledging to continue covering children’s books, it still begs the question of what happens to the many young readers who were part of the site and perhaps appreciated it more than anyone else.
For me personally, I gained some of the most exciting opportunities from the site. I’ve met authors, piled countless books upon my shelves, gained skills, conducted interviews, attended events, written opinions, and I, like many other members of the site, am very appreciative of what the site has done for me. That’s where this site is unique: we always did what we did as members because we were passionate about it, not because in any way did we feel that we had to. I can say that, for me personally, I never took an opportunity begrudgingly.
Perhaps the true impact of this won’t be the gap being left in coverage of children’s books through the site closing, but maybe the true impact will come from the hundreds of site members who were passionate about covering them for the site in the first place.
However, I look forward to seeing what happens next. I can’t deny that I am sad that the site is going, and I think that goes without saying for a lot of people. Only time will tell what comes next for children’s books at The Guardian, and indeed across the whole media industry. I urge you to appreciate the five years of the site, and by all means be sad and by all means feel disappointed that the budget cuts have hit the site. But the industry will continue to make further strides in covering kids books, and I look forward to seeing future developments with covering kids books.
I just don’t understand why the blow was dealt to the Children’s Books Site.