Thursday, March 08, 2007

Book Buying by Teens Is on the Increase

Well, here's a bit of not-quite-unexpected good news. I had a hunch that the number of teen readers might be on the rise just based on the number of new titles and the amount of space dedicated to YA books that I've noticed in the last two or three years. This article makes note of what's been happening.

It's a time of strong writing and strong sales as readers in the 12-to-18 age group rock the marketplace.

"Kids are buying books in quantities we've never seen before," said Booklist magazine critic Michael Cart, a leading authority on young adult literature. "And publishers are courting young adults in ways we haven't seen since the 1940s."

Credit a bulging teen population, a surge of global talent and perhaps a bit of Harry Potter afterglow as the preteen Muggles of yesteryear carry an ingrained reading habit into later adolescence.
Fantasy and graphic novels are especially hot, and adventure, romance, humor and gritty coming-of-age tales remain perennial favorites. In addition, racy series such as "The Gossip Girls" -- often likened to a teen "Sex and the City" -- have created a buzz.

More notably, though, there's a new strain of sophistication and literary heft as publishers cater to the older end of the spectrum with books that straddle teen and adult markets.
It's always fascinating when just about the time that all the experts predict something, the opposite happens, and this is nice to see. Could it be that teens only quit reading because the market gave up on them and there was nothing new that appealed to them? It's especially satisfying to see that teens now aren't reading just graphic novels and things like the "Sweet Valley High" series mentioned in the article.


  1. I found it fascinating when I heard that Life Of Pi was being picked up by a lot of teens. Such a hard demographic to predict, eh?

  2. That's great news - I love to hear that kids are reading. I was actually shelving in the teen section yesterday and noticed a lot of books I actually thought would be interesting to read. That said, I also thought there were some books wholly inappropriate for teens. I guess I'm kind of on the fence about whether more mature reading is good or not. It's great to get them to read, but I'm not sure at what cost.

    Sorry, I always seem to turn the comments about teens and children into something negative; sorry about that - I really do think it's good that teens are reading; I just worry about some of the content.

  3. John, I have to admit that I'm impressed with some of what seems to be the most popular books for today's teens. Heck, I'm just impressed that so many of them still read for pleasure in spite of the peer pressure they receive to be "cooler" than that.

    Anne, I share some of your concerns but as long as they don't stray into porn I don't worry too much. I think that the violence that is contained in so many computer games and graphic violence is a bigger problem than what they will be exposed to in most of their reading. But I do understand your concerns.

  4. The violence doesn't bother me as much - for the reason you mentioned and because I haven't seen much violence for violence' sake in the books - it has a purpose. The stuff that bothers me is the sex, drugs, suicide, occult... it's all there and it unnerves me a bit. Of course, I've always been a prude. Lol. Like I said, there also seem to be some great books in there, so I just try to steer the teens in that directions when they come to the store.

  5. Speaking of teens, did you know that Miles Franklin wrote "My Brilliant Career" when she was a teenager?

  6. No, I didn't know that, so thanks for the insight.