A thousand young people, most of them teenagers, start the sunny spring between four walls, those of a bookstore in Barcelona, and with a purpose: to talk about books, share readings and impressions, meet a handful of writers and a few authors who meet for two days at the Book Con convention for young people’s literature.
The thing about the books recommended at school, the ones that parents buy and give away, is already behind us. It’s been 15 years now and it’s their preferences, their first savings to spend, that set their reading paths and shape the statistics. The pattern of reading habits gives a fixed snapshot in recent years. Children read a lot, they are in the learning phase and compulsory reading. Teenagers and young people too, despite the influence of screens and digital distractions. Then the habit falls, when the time to dedicate to the hobby falls due to work and family responsibilities, surely. Why do women continue to be the readers with a capital letter, in the different stages of life, if they take it worse to reconcile and add to the mental load?
According to the 2022 reading and book buying habits barometer, in the last decade readers over the age of 14 have increased by 5.7%, and it is precisely the range that goes from 14 to 24 years (74.2%) the one that reads the most, followed by the one from 45 to 64 (69.2%).
The award-winning author of young adult novels, Katherine Marsh, reflected these days in an article in ‘The Atlantic’ about the motivations and demotivations that are actually hidden when a young reader picks up the habit of reading, and pointed, fundamentally, to the importance of having fun above all else with the book, whatever the genre, whatever the length. Each child and adolescent connects in a different way with plots and characters, but when they find the one that captivates them, that intrigues them and that they want to know more about, how they solve their problems, how they live experiences similar to those they themselves have lived or feared, oh, so, that’s magic.
That spell has these days in the Alibri bookstore in Barcelona a legion of living proofs of the fan phenomenon. Mobile screens are not the antichrist, but rather a gateway to Wattpad, Telegram, and TikTok and Instagram accounts where the young reading community grows, becomes stronger, and educates itself. They are tools in a universe in which the reading experience is at the center, linked to the book. LOr do bookstores know that they give up space for initiatives like this convention, because what the heck is romanticism that beats behind all this. The organizers, Laure and Meg, celebrate five years of growing success, this edition with forty authors with books and thousands of followers on social networks. It is a full-fledged ‘spin-off’ of the Sant Jordi festival, with its book signings, its balloons and raffles, its exhibitors, and above all, its dragons and princesses, with lances at the ready.
From Bookish, the literary label that first rescued the Alibri bookstore from closure and then have strengthened their commitment to youth literature, they tell how this coming Book Day they will open a stall selling books exclusively of the genre, the most passionate of all, not in vain is it fed by romantic plots, fantasy, heroines and unfathomable mysteries, and connects emotionally with the feelings on the surface of the youngest.
The spell that surrounds this way of living the reading experience is the same that has led, for example, the best seller Joana Marcús to present her latest novel in various parts of Spain at the same time, in streaming, in different cinemas selected for the launch , rooms where a short film shot expressly for the promotion accompanies the act and where fans can participate in the phenomenon in real time, multiplying it on social networks as well. The future of reading can be read on multiple screens.