Book WTF: Era Disclaimer

If you were a teenage girl in the 1990s, you probably loved Christopher Pike like I did. If you didn’t, we can no longer be friends. A recent trip to Books-A-Million brought me face to face with the Christopher Pike novel Sati. At first I was excited that there might be a new book, but when I read the back I recognized the story about a girl who claims she is God.

Then I opened the book and found this disclaimer:

Sati was published in the 1980s, and the story reflects that time. Thus there are no cell phones, Internet, or special drug cocktails to combat AIDS. The author had the option of editing this book, but felt it best to leave the tale of Sati’s visit as it was originally written.

My mind was boggled.

This passage implies that young adult readers expect every book to include present day technology. The tone of the disclaimer seems to indicate that the publisher thinks Christopher Pike did the wrong thing by not editing this book.

Since when do previously-published books get edited to include cell phones? I have trouble understanding why the context of the book would not give away the era or the fact that these things didn’t exist. Are today’s teenagers really so stupid that they’d be reading this book questioning the characters for not getting on the internet?

Are they going to start putting disclaimers like this on all books? Are kids opening Little House on the Prairie and wondering why the hell Laura Ingalls is riding in a covered wagon instead of a car?

The very existence of this disclaimer depresses me about what it means the publisher’s think about today’s youth. I’d like to think teenagers these days are smart enough to figure out the book they are reading was written in the past. But maybe I’m too optimistic?

Seriously, WTF?

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7 Responses to Book WTF: Era Disclaimer

  1. Jennifer

    Ann M Martin re-edited her Babysitter Club books to include things like cell phones, DVD’s, internet and advanced medications for diabetes. I wish authors didn’t do this, but I guess it’s to try and sell their books to another generation.

    • I’m more ok with the elementary school-level books being updated, but it boggles my mind that they would feel the need to do it for a teenager’s book. Or worse yet feel the need to explain why they DIDN’T do it.

  2. They edited Babysitter’s Club and the Sweet Valley books. Totally updated. Cell phones, new pop culture references, all of it. I’m really irritated with the whole concept because books are an insight into the past and “updating” a book pretty much ruins it.

    I mean, imagine The Outsiders happening in 2011. It’d be like the Emos and the Jocks or something.

    • Yeesh, can you imagine Outsiders being updated? Just wrong! I can kind of understand updating a series like Baby-sitters Club since it’s more than one book. The insights into the decade are great, but I doubt many 7 year olds would get it. Perhaps I need to do a post explaining why that’s ok to me but not this. Hmmmm…

      • I’d be interested to hear it! Maybe it’s because I just loved the books so much and I think the 80′s and 90′s pop culture is part of what gives them their charm and safety. Nancy Drew, Boxcar Children, Babysitters’ Club, Sweet Valley…all of them are just good books as they are and had their time in the limelight. While little kids and preteens SHOULD read them, perhaps we should just make new books to highlight the current generation? Good quality books, that is, because I don’t think preteen girls need to be reading about how to catch a guy.

        I’m kind of a book purist though. *blushes*

  3. Christie Critters

    For me it was when the “updated” the Nancy Drew series (age showing here)…that was just not RIGHT!

  4. When I grew up (born 1982, in school through the 90′s) NONE of the “old” books (written prior to 1990) were “updated” to include modern references. We enjoyed the old books of Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys and the Boxcar Children. We enjoyed books written by Beverly Cleary and Judy Blume. There were no references to phones/modern technology in any books. Instead the authors used descriptive words to help us IMAGINE what a room looked like, what a character was wearing or doing, where the mystery was. Its why many books have become CLASSICS. They should NOT be tampered with.

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