Based on feedback from early events and an outpouring of requests for appearances, Knopf will expand the author tour for Nancy Jo Sales's American Girls: Social Media and the Secret Lives of Teenagers and has created an online discussion guide for parents and teenagers, available for free on the American Girls website. Released on February 23 and based on hundreds of interviews with teenage girls, American Girls explores the often-damaging role social media plays in the lives of today's teenagers. Also on the book's site is a section for parents and teens to share and discuss their own experiences with social media.
"I think parents are troubled by what they're seeing and [Sales's] book is providing an opportunity for them to educate themselves about social media and more importantly share their experiences," explained Paul Bogaards, executive v-p and director of publicity for Knopf. "Based on the number of requests we've had from all over the country, we thought communities would want to use this book as a point of departure for a conversation about teens and social media."
In addition to expanding Sales's author tour, Knopf is putting together an event kit to go out to some 190 independent bookstores around the country in the next few weeks. The kits include discussion guides, buttons and an infographic poster. The idea for the kit, Bogaards explained, came from the fact that even with an expanded tour, Sales won't be able to make it everywhere, but indie bookstores and community organizations like schools and libraries can still host American Girls discussions without the author. Bogaards added that Knopf will also try to make Sales available for events via Skype.
Sales appeared last week in Madison, Conn., for an off-site event hosted by R.J. Julia Booksellers. The author was in conversation with Dr. Kiki Kennedy, a professor of psychiatry at Yale, and according to R.J. Julia's events manager Liz Bartek, the pair drew a sold-out crowd of around 300 people. "It's a conversation that absolutely needed to happen," said Bartek. "We only reached the tip of the iceberg. People wanted to continue talking. It could have continued for another couple of hours."
|Elisabeth Egan and Nancy Jo Sales at Watchung Booksellers' event.
"It's a really scary time for girls, and social media is something that as mothers, we don't even know how to guide them in," said Margot Sage-EL, owner of Watchung Booksellers in Montclair, N.J., who hosted an off-site event last week with Nancy Jo Sales in conversation with author Elisabeth Egan. The event drew around 150 attendees, predominantly mothers. "You could hear a pin drop in the auditorium as [Sales and Egan] were speaking," Sage-EL said. "They were trying to capture every word."
Booksellers interested in hosting American Girls events may Helen Tobin at firstname.lastname@example.org. --Alex Mutter