Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The YA market in 2008

A few posts down, I had asked if any of us read YA books as actual teenagers. There are lots of interesting comments to that, so be sure to check them out or add your thoughts if you haven’t already done so. In her comment, responding to the fact that many of us in our early 30s didn’t really even know contemporary YA existed as teens, Kristin says, “This is weird! I wonder if it's different for teenagers now? Are kids more tuned in to what's currently being published, and if so, why? Or were we the anomalies? Should we have known about contemporary YA?”

Can we talk about this? Is it that YA is such a bigger deal than it was in the late 80s/early 90s? Is it marketed better? What has changed, or has anything changed? I really can’t imagine that we were the anomalies. We were all big readers, we went on to have lasting interests in children’s literature, and I suspect, had I really known that there were a whole bunch of great YA books just waiting for me, I would have read everything I could get my hands on. It’s hard for me to step back and view YA literature from anything other than my perspective—having gone to Simmons, having worked for years selling children’s books, and reading almost solely YA books now—to see if “the rest of the world” is familiar with/aware of YA books. We are all big readers of YA, and know about the new books/trends/hot titles, but what about actual teenagers? Since many of us work/worked in bookstores, or teach teenagers, or are librarians, or write for teens, or edit books aimed at teens (need I go on?), I'm sure a lot of people have an opinion on this. I'm interested to know what you think about this subject.


Julie said...

This is an excellent question! And sadly, one I have no answer to. I'm struck at the moment, however, by how little our students (mainly 18-22 year olds) read "for fun." I know they're often stretched to the max with course work and other obligations, but it rarely occurs to them to think of our library as a place to find leisure reading. A sharp contrast to working in a public library! We keep talking about ways to highlight our literature collection, but just the other day I put out a display from our rotating collection, which contains current, popular books. At the public library, I would have had to struggle to keep up with the display. At the college library, it barely gets touched. One of the books had been checked out yesterday and I wanted to throw a party.

So I guess there's also the question of how much leisure reading people do in general. There've been a couple of interesting reports out recently about the level of reading among Americans - I'm thinking mainly of the NEA report - and while there are some issues with the NEA data themselves, the study does raise the question of how much people read in general. Hm. So those are my random thoughts. Can you tell I'm in the middle of spinning a research project out of the random thoughts??

kristin said...

when i get a chance, i want to ask my editor and my agent about this. they might have some hard facts about what has changed in the last 15-20 years marketing-wise, and they might be able to explain to me why i didn't know about current YA when i was a YA. it strikes me that one explanation is that there wasn't the strip mall book store culture then that there is now-- b&n, for example, only became an enormously phenomenon recently, didn't it? there were some independent bookstores where i grew up, but i rarely went to them...