On the Uglies series

Introduction: Mind-Rain

By Scott Westerfeld

There’s an old saying that goes like this: “It takes a village to raise a child.”

This saying doesn’t suggest that parents are unimportant, only that children are hungry little sponges who are shaped by everything around them. They need a lot more than the input of a nuclear family to reach their full potential—they need a community. The larger the world that a child experiences, the more they can become themselves.

Having spent the last five years emailing with, talking to, and lurking on the blogs of Uglies fans, I would humbly submit that it also takes a village to read a book.

Again, this doesn’t mean we authors aren’t important. We still want the last word in certain kinds of arguments. (That’s why it’s called authority, people!) And we still crave all those fan mails and delicious royalty checks.

But books, like children, are hungry things. They want more than just one spindly author. They want fanfic and fan art and discussion boards and LJ icons cribbed from their covers. In a word, books want conversations.

Of course, you guys know this already. You write me all the time to tell in mind-bending detail how you gave the Uglies books to your best friends, who passed it on to their friends, until you had whole cafeteria tables wa-ing and la-ing and generally confusing everyone around them with bubbletalk. So clearly you know the secret of getting the whole village reading.

Because when more people read a book, the book gets better.

But why is that,  …

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