By James Russell, Typology Publishing Intern.
Young adult reading trends have changed rapidly over the years. Particular themes and narrative structures that were once popular risk becoming outdated with the social and technological advancement of reading and communication technologies. The young adult demographic has a very broad range – from 12-years-old right up to adulthood, so the relevance of certain books will, of course, depend on which end of the spectrum the reader sits closest. The range of emotional and social maturity across the YA spectrum demands a range of different approaches to narrative content.
New adult, an increasingly popular subgenre of young adult fiction, covers more mature subject matter around adult encounters between characters. New adult readers tend to be between 18 and 30-years-old, or, at least, have protagonists in this age bracket. And books for this demographic, along with dystopian fiction such as the Hunger Games series for the young adults, have enjoyed success among readers as they carve out a distinct niche that can experiment with how adult concepts can be introduced to, and understood by, younger readers.
Yet, despite the intended audience of the young adult genre, it is adults who make up the majority of book sales (Nielsen, 2015) although this statistic does not account for adults purchasing books for their children. Well-designed book covers and rumours of movie adaptations help generate attention for young adult books on store shelves. Book sales data (Nielsen, 2013) showed that 47% of children’s and young adult books sold in Australia were published locally; indicating that writing for younger audiences has grown attractive for Australian authors.
In Australia, both paperback and eBook bestsellers in the young adult category mainly occupy the fantasy, supernatural and dystopian subgenres. If you filter the search of Young Adult literature on popular online bookstores for bestsellers, themes involving a mix between supernatural elements and romance are the most popular. The most obvious example of this can be seen in the Twilight series that popularized this style of young adult literature and results in a myriad of vampire offshoots. Writing that covers dystopian and more general romantic themes generally forms the rest of popularly purchased young adult literature within Australia.
Interestingly, Deloitte Australia, and others, predict that 80% of books sales in 2015 will belong to print book sales as the surge in popularity of eBook readers settles. Young adult readers are no exception to this trend and are just as happy to pick up and read a physical copy as read using electronic means.