Posted by: Kathy Temean | March 4, 2013

Young Adult – New Adult

woman reading bookI have been saying for years that teen books provide great reads and fit into my life style so much better, because they are a quick literary fix. They remind me of buying a delicious gourmet frozen dinner – Pop it in the Microwave and voila you are happy and fed.  They are shorter, faster-paced, and designed to appeal to discriminating readers.

Apparently, I am not the only one who feels this way, because many of the readers buying books aimed at the teen market are no longer teenagers. But the numbers are more dramatic than we may have guessed. According to the Bowker study, 55 percent of customers who buy young adult books are 18 or older. In fact, the largest group of readers purchasing titles labeled “young adult” are actually 30 to 44 years old – not the target demographic for the books.

The teen readers genre, which is officially slated for readers 12 to 17, has crossed age lines over the past decade as series like “Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling,” “Twilight by Stephenie Meyer,” and Suzanne Collins’ dystopian trilogy “Hunger Game”s have appealed to adults as well as the younger readers at which they were aimed.

Just look at the first 9 months of Amazon’s “best of the month” picks. It included a young adult title in its “Top 10 list” four times – not on a separate “young readers” list but as part of its overall survey of best titles available. “Every Day” by David Levithan was selected in September, while “Shadow and Bone” by Leigh Burdago made the June list. “The Fault in Our Stars” by John Green cracked the January list and “Daughter of Smoke and Bone” by Laini Taylor made it to the September roll call.

This leads us to publishers who now have coined the phrase “New Adult”. The School Library Journal has a good article with links to a number of sites that discuss how they see “New Adult” fitting into the market.

New market research shows that 55 percent of those buying books labeled ‘young adult’ are in fact 18 and over, a trend that’s increasing, so it is something you definitely should be aware of if you write for teens. Five years ago, editors wouldn’t even look at a book that had an eighteen year old on their way to college or making their way out in the adult world – more proof that things are changing and with that more opportunities for writers.

10 books to read after the ‘Hunger Games’ trilogy

Talk tomorrow,



  1. Great post, Kathy. I’m reposting on my blog verbatim with a link back here.


  2. Things are changing quickly. I pitched a story to an agent at the NJSCBWI last year with a college-age main character. He told me that that age would not go over well with editors, and would I consider rewriting the character in High School instead. It’s very interesting that just a year later, his response might be different.


  3. Hello, I enjoy reading all of your article post. I wanted to
    write a little comment to support you.


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