Welcome to a special edition of Extra! Extra! Tomorrow's issue will have the usual blog news and updates!
A couple days ago an article landed in my in-box announcing that a recent study by Bowker Market Research revealed that 55% of buyers of YA (young adult) books are actually 18 and older.
28% of all YA purchases are reportedly made by adults age 30 to 44, with 78% of this group reporting that they were reading the books themselves, as opposed to buying books for their children.
I don't think these statistics come as a shock to anyone in the YA book blogging world. They certainly didn't surprise me, being in that over-30 category myself.
The study cites the recent popularity of the Hunger Games series and movie as part of the reason for the trend, but adds that adults reading YA is a "much larger phenomenon."
Um, yeah. And I agree that the phenomenon didn't start with Hunger Games, though that series and movie definitely fueled it.
The trend may have been sparked by two late 1990s-early 2000s cultural phenomena: first, the publication of some wildly popular crossover fiction (Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone was first released in the US in 1998, and the first Twilight book in 2005) and second, the erasure of the so-called Generation Gap, at least in terms of our consumption patterns.
The term Generation Gap was coined in the 1960s to describe the fact that, at that time, young people and their parents just didn't understand each other. Today, we have a sort of "Generation Merge" in which adults often listen to the same music as teenagers, watch the same TV shows, wear the same kinds of clothes, and yes, read the same books.
|It used to be that if dressed like your kids, you ended up looking like this.|
Jezebel recently ran an article about the rise of the woman-child. This piece painted a somewhat condescending picture of how adult women are "sporting sparkly nail polish to religiously reading every bestselling young adult novel ... reliving their teenage years with real gusto."
|Uh-oh, signs of arrested development!|
Jezebel only fleetingly mentions the man-child, that over-30 guy who wears jeans and a hoodie, plays video games, and listens to Katy Perry on his iPod. As a New York magazine article pointed out way back in 2006, the world is filled with adult guys "with the chunky square glasses, brown rock t-shirt, slight paunch, expensive jeans, Puma sneakers and shoulder slung messenger bag." Maybe hiding in that bag is a copy of the Hunger Games...
I do think the fact that large numbers of adults are reading, reviewing and blogging about YA presents some interesting questions.
Do the reading tastes and preferences of adults who read YA differ from those of teenagers? Should publishers rethink the existing divisions between middle grade, YA, and adult genres?
Give me your opinion in comments!