Digital: Penguin creates teen site

Publisher Penguin is launching a branded online social network for teenagers, to encourage them to read more books.

The Spinebreakers online community will be run by a group of nine teenagers aged between 13 and 18, who will oversee its content and edit short stories uploaded by users.

The portal will also feature pre-publication excerpts from novels including Kevin Brooks' Being: Can You Escapee from What You Really Are? and Nick Hornby's first for teenagers, SLAM. The book follows a skateboarding-obsessed boy whose life is turned upside down after his girlfriend becomes pregnant.

Online advertising and cross-promotional activity will drive traffic to the site, where users can post views on SLAM, share similar experiences or access clips from an audio version.

The book publisher has partnered with youth marketing agency Livity to launch Spinebreakers. The site's teenage editors will work with journalists and authors to select content, as well as web designers from The Planet to influence its look.

Penguin is launching the portal in response to research that showed three in four teenagers garner information about books online. More than 40% of those surveyed never visit chain bookshops, 68% never visit independents, and 70% said they would read more online in future.

Penguin's other recent online activity has included a scavenger hunt to support the launch of The Malice Box, a supernatural mystery set in Manhattan.

'The Quest', which draws on themes from the book, sets players of the game the mission of saving the world from eternal damnation by solving a series of puzzles and cracking codes.

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