Scholastic Book Clubs Criticized for Marketing to Children
February 11, 2009
Yesterday Motoko Rich reported in the New York Times,
If you have a kid in elementary school, this is not news—and I have just the Snow Kitten feather pen to prove it. In fact I'm writing with it now. Just kidding. I'm really writing with a Bratz eraser. Just kidding. It's an Emily the Emerald Fairy Pack fairy pen. Just kidding. It's not a pen, it's a Hannah Montana guitar pick necklace. Hard to do. Picks don't write. Just kidding. Picks do write. Just kidding. I can hear you now over my Spy Tunes Listening Device. Krrrrrrrr. Just kidding, j—......
With apologies to "Saturday Night Live"'s Kristen Wiig and a hat tip to the data list here.
I remember when we just curled our lips at fast food links to movies and movie-version books. It really has always kind of bugged me that there are these tie-ins, and they DO get given straight to the kids. Whatever happened to the plain old Weekly Reader being just... about reading?
Posted by: TadMack | February 12, 2009 at 05:55 AM
TadMack, I think by attaching the junk to the actual books we're saying that the books in themselves are not good enough. Just reading is awesome, and we do not have to oversell it. I agree!
Posted by: Susan (Chicken Spaghetti) | February 12, 2009 at 07:53 AM
This is exactly why I put those fliers directly in the recycling bag. And here I am stuck keyboarding the boring old fashion way. You are much funnier and more inventive than I!
Posted by: cloudscome | February 12, 2009 at 07:59 AM
Clouds, I will send you a feather pen. Or would you like a set of Vampire Family tattoos? Ha, ha. I do like some of the book prices in the Scholastic flyers, but do not care for all the junk.
Posted by: Susan_Thomsen | February 12, 2009 at 09:02 AM
One of my tutoring students had her Scholastic flyer a couple weeks ago, and asked to take a look. She gave me two, saying, "this one is the book one, and this one is the game one." The other one was a complete Scholastic flier specializing in video games!! I couldn't believe it!!
Posted by: Renee | February 12, 2009 at 03:47 PM
Yes, video games. Surprising, isn't it? Some are educational, like Math Blaster.
Posted by: Susan (Chicken Spaghetti) | February 12, 2009 at 05:38 PM
Hysterical post -- and so true. As an author sometimes included on the book clubs, and as a former Scholastic employee who wrote the book clubs -- and even managed and created a couple -- I know this business pretty well.
If you are curious, I blogged about this the other day:
Posted by: James Preller | February 13, 2009 at 12:26 PM
James, thanks for the link. Will hop over and read it now, feather pen in hand.
Posted by: Susan_Thomsen | February 13, 2009 at 04:35 PM
Although not a fan of the erasers, pens, pencil toppers, necklaces, jewelry,and the endless bookmarks, I do have to speak up for the book clubs.
They do market lots of stuff-that-will-break-very-very-soon. For years though, when my kids were small, they were a source of inexpensive books, NO SALES TAX and no shipping charges, for my family. We've been through some tough financial times when Scholastic was a real blessing. I can look at the bookshelves right now and see rows and rows of paperbacks with well-worn spines that were purchased from the Scholastic book orders over the years.
The days the books were delivered were always happy days at school.
Do the kids want the do-it-yourself dinosaur egg--detective kit--make your own necklace?
We never bought the plastic but the books that the club provided are still paying benefits to my children and any number of nieces and nephews today.
For many years, the book clubs were also the way I kept up with children's books. I have a fond spot in my heart for them.
Posted by: BookMoot | February 23, 2009 at 11:39 AM
Camille, you bring up good points about the value of the Scholastic book clubs, and I'm glad this is an ongoing conversation! I like their $1 specials, which are often kids' classics.
Posted by: Susan_Thomsen | February 23, 2009 at 05:41 PM