Readersforum's Blog

November 17, 2011

Young adult novels heating up the charts

Writer Elaine Dimopoulos attributes the books’ appeal to being deep inside the protagonist’s head.

Publishers, stores embracing trend

By Meredith Goldstein

Employees at the Brookline Booksmith kept getting the same questions, over and over.

‘‘Where’s ‘Twilight’? ’’ Or ‘‘Where are the Stephenie Meyer books?’’

The staff response: ‘‘Young adult books are in back.’’

Staff members noticed that, curiously, most of the inquiring customers were not young adults at all. Many were middle aged. And that led to a revelation: Young adult books are no longer for that audience alone – and, as a result, sales are often outpacing grown-up bestsellers, sometimes by millions.

The Booksmith now keeps its best-selling young adult titles in the front of the store, displayed prominently on tables among the adult bestsellers and new releases.

It all began with the “Twilight’’ series, which has the first of its two final movie installments, “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1,’’ hitting movie theaters this weekend. The book ignited a publishing industry trend that continues to see adults purchasing books written for teens.

The market shift is considerable. An example: Jonathan Franzen’s much-anticipated novel “Freedom’’ has sold more than 600,000 hardcover copies since it was released in August 2010, according to Nielsen BookScan, while Suzanne Collins’s “Mockingjay,’’ the third book in her “Hunger Games’’ trilogy – released that same month and geared to young adults – has sold more than 1.3 million single, hardcover copies to date.

Hardcover copies of books for young adults (known as YA books) are a few dollars less than adult releases, but the huge sales numbers still have the books earning more money at the register. As of last week, all three books in Collins’s “Hunger Games’’ trilogy were on the Amazon Kindle bestseller list. They beat out “The Help’’ and Stieg Larsson’s “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.’’

This reader-driven trend has changed the scope and priorities of the publishing industry. Six years after the release of the first “Twilight’’ book, literary agencies have restructured themselves to account for strong young adult sales. Publishers continue to increase the number of YA acquisitions.

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September 26, 2011

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