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Anthony McGowan recently researched the growing phenomenon that is changing the audience for YA (Young Adult) books. Most publishers will agree that YA novels are intended for a teenage audience. However, “figures show that 80% of Ya literature is read by people over 25.” This number indicates that publishers are missing their mark in YA publishing.

This is impobook-1331702_1280rtant because most teenagers stop reading at the age of 14 due to other entertainment available. There is an abundance of entertainment options competing with books for a YA’s attention, and books are losing. One reason teenage might have stopped reading is that books are no longer geared towards them. Most YA books are adult or new adult novels in disguise. Real teenage books are no longer getting published.

Most writers of YA books are adults trying to write to avoid writing to a narrow audience, hoping their book can relate to many. The editors of these books often people a little over the age of 25 who read and sometimes write YA novels. Bloggers are almost all adults and are in favor of a particular type of YA fiction.

All of these factors in the publishing industry leads to the lack of actual YA books. McGowan suggests,

All we need to do is classify them honestly and openly as adult writers. This will free up valuable publishing space for teen writers, for novelists who are interested in writing as a communicative act, a conversation between the reader and writer. And that means focusing on the readers – the teenage readers that YA fiction doesn’t serve – finding a language to engage and entertain them, a literature that talks about their lives, their hopes, their fears and their dreams.

I agree with McGowan but instead of pushing most of these books into the adult niche publishers can use the recently developed New Adult niche to serve these types of novels better. Because while the story lines in today’s YA books are not particularly for YA, they are not quite mature enough for the true adult audience either. New Adult books, however, are less about coming of age and more about discovering one’s self and where one fits into society. This niche was built with this audience in mind, trying to grasp the uncertainties faced with being an adult.

McGowan’s full article can be found here. There is also an article on the difference in YA and New Adult books here.

By: Tierra Dinkins

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