Friday, October 12, 2012

Who's buying and reading YA-books?

In september I read an article about adults buying teen books in The Christian Science Monitor. The results showed in this article are based on a study from Bowker Market Research. It shows that 55 % percent of the buyers of YA-literature are 18 or over and they say this is a trend that's only been increasing over the years. The majority of the buyers in the 18+-group are actually 30-44 years old (I am one of those:-) Of course this group could be buying the books for their kids or other teenagers, but according to the survey 78% of the adult buyers reported that they were buying the books for themselves. The popularity of series as The Hunger Games, Twilight and Harry Potter can take some of the blame but not most of it. More than 70% of the readers reported to read a variety of titles. This is good news for the publishers Bowker says because these book's readers are among the most loyal, socially active and committed you can find. So why do adults like to read books meant for a younger crowd?

Why do I like to read YA?
I can only speak for myself since I am one of those adults who like to read YA-literature. I started to read YA-books because of my job as a school librarian but now I really enjoy them and also buy some for myself. The article in The Christian Science Monitor claims one of the reasons for this could be that YA-books are often written in a less complicated matter than many books for adults an therefore may offer more of a literary escape. The genres of dystopia and fantasy that are very popular in YA-literature are both genres that appeals to me. I agree that many times these books are less complicated and first of all easier to stomach (less graphic) than in many of the adult books, which is fine by me. But I also think a reader could find literary escape in adult literature just as easy and many do but maybe the issues and the thematics doesn't appeal to everyone in the less complicated literature for adults.

                                                   (Photo: copyright: Flickr/Ben Sutherland)

Also the line between YA-literature and the adult literature is sometimes very thin. There's great diversity in YA and some of it is an easy read and some of it is not. One of the few similarities seems to be that it's about young people and issues that they are concerned about. So, the YA-literature appeals to me for many reasons but one of them  is about that last thing, that you can read about a persons period of life that is maybe the most vulnerable, exciting and where so many of your experiences are new and fresh. I think we all like to feel like that again. I also think this is one of the most important periods of life when a person is between childhood and adulthood. This is when you struggle to find out who you are and who you want to be. A lot of great literature has been written about this but maybe not been called YA. I think it's about time that this literature is discovered by a larger group of readers. And this leads to me ending this with the most important reason for me starting to read YA; I didn't know I could find so many fun, exciting and good books among them before I started to read them.

This leads me to another thing. In Norway we don't have a YA-category. Some books are called crossover-books but this is not really working in the marketing process because these books have a problem finding their way to the right readers. Therefore neither the young adults nor the adults read them a lot. This is hopefully going to change now that they are given more attention. How is this in you country?


15 comments:

  1. I am also over the YA age.. But still love reading it. Kind of because you can remember how it was an relates to it. And most of it is easy read :) Which is nice when you don`t feel like you have time to sit down an read a bible. :P

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    1. I agree with you. It is nice to read something with fascinating thematics, characters you can relate to and/or maybe even some debth that is still an easy read.

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  2. Myself I am only just old enough to belong to the category Young Adult, yet I have been reading YAs for a very long time now. And well, I think that I'll still be reading YAs when I'm "too old".

    Luckily we do have a YA-category in the Netherlands and it's pretty big too. :)

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    1. That sounds good. Do you have some dutch YA-novels to recommend preferable translated into english?

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    2. It is! Most novels are translated from another language into Dutch, yet we do have a couple of Dutch YA authors. I don't know whether Dutch YA-novels have been translated into English, I'll keep an eye out.

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  3. I am also well above the YA age! I started reading YA as part of my job as a teacher. It is often difficult to find books that catch the attention of teenagers who feel they are forced to read as part of the English curriculum, so I set out to discover the English-speaking YA world to be able to compile a list of books for my classes. These days I read YA more for my own benefit than for students (though my list of recommended books is constantly growing) - it helps me feel young and more in touch with today's youth, plus I have of course had some great reading moments with several YA books the past few years (Twilight, Uglies and The Hunger Games, to mention a few - I have also spread the word at work and made several colleagues discover the world of YA). I would like there to be more Norwegian YA written, as I also teach Norwegian and find it challenging to dig up native-language literature that can make students feel more comfortable with reading and give them a positive experience at school and hopefully beyond.

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    1. Yes, I agree with you on the feeling young and staying in touch with today's youth part. I also think some of these books should almost be mandatory for parents, teachers and other people that work with teenagers. I also find it hard to find norwegian YA that are as appealing as the the ones written in english but I think we're getting there.

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  4. Great post. I'm a bit old for YA (24), but I read them all the time. I just never stopped reading them once I became too old.

    I'm lucky there's so many YA books in Canada!

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    1. Fortunately more books are being translated to norwegian and many teenagers are comfortable reading in english:-)A problem is that these books are often in the children and youth-book section in the bookstore, library and in the publisher's marketing. I don't think all young adult-readers wants to find their books in the children's section.

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  5. We don't really have YA instead ll MG and YA and those in between adult and YA is in one category.

    Tsk, cos it's easier. Nah, I read it if it has a good story

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    1. Agreed:-) I'm all for a good story!

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  6. I'm a bit over the YA age, but I just love to read it. I also read MG, I don't care. I hate that everything must have a label, because.. reading is about enjoying yourself, so who cares about a target audience for a book. Here in the Netherlands, we do have quite some YA books. The only thing I don't like is the fact that it's all translated in Dutch, while I like the English versions :) I wish they were available as well.

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    1. Well said! I also think a good book and story is good no matter the label. I still understand that the publishers want a target audience in their marketing and it is also necessary for librarians and book stores in order to organize the books. I think the group of young adults is particulary difficult and it might not be alright with everyone in this group to find books in the children's section.

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  7. I'm also over the YA target audience, but I love a good story and it doesn't matter if it's a book for children, young adults or adults really. Besides I don't think I'll ever forget how it was to be a teenager :)

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Thank you for sharing your thoughts =)