On a recent trip through the local bookstore I stumbled into the “youth” section, which is full of interesting looking books which I found hard to believe were really targeted at teenagers, since the quality of the writing and design of many of them was up to or beyond the level of adult books. There’s a higher emphasis on fantasy themes than you’d find in general fiction, but it reminded me that many books we now consider literary classics were once marketed to a youth audience, including major works by Robert Heinlein, C. S. Lewis and Arthur C. Clarke which are anything but childish.
I also noticed that a lot of the books featured our font designs. The first to catch my eye was Derek Landy’s Scepter of the Ancients which is the first book in the Skulduggery Pleasant series of supernatural mystery/adventure novels. All the books in the series feature prominent titles done in our Potsdam font, which has just the right mix of the ancient and arcane. Other books in the series include Playing with Fire and The Faceless Ones. All excellent reading for younger teens.
Also quick to catch my eye was The Last Olympian which is the fifth and latest entry in Rick Riordan’s series Percy Jackson and the Olympians also aimed at young teens, and while the series is a bit blander than Landy’s series, there’s plenty of action and an entertaining concept with ancient Greek gods and monsters running around in modern times. All of the books in the series use our Windlass font for their titles. Windlass is a bit overused, especially for pirate-related products, but it works well in this context. Windlass also shows up in the titles for Joseph Delaney’s The Last Apprentice series, a lengthy series also aimed at the 9-12 Junior High market, with a traditional fantasy theme with some magic and some humor mixed together.
Finally I ran accross Brandon Mull’s Fablehaven series which uses our Scurlock font for its titles, though they’ve made it more narrow and added some customizations. The latest entry in this series is Secrets of the Dragon Sanctuary. It seems to be pretty well written, but the fantasy/quest theme is a bit predictable, perhaps not as much fun as the font used for the titles. This book is also aimed at the 9-12 year old audience, though it is not as sophisticated as the Riordan or Landy books mentioned earlier.
It’s interesting that the book market for younger teens and pre-teens seems to slant so much towards fantasy and a bit of a relief to see that the maudline vampire obsession of the older teen market has not infected the younger age groups significantly yet, so if you are buying for a kid in that age group the choices are still appealing and the title fonts look excellent.