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01 August 2011


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Ick. I don't think this new label is even necessary. I always understood Young Adult books to be books for young people in their late teens who are in fact adults in every sense but the legal sense. Somewhere along the line, people seemed to think YA was for ALL teens. I probably wouldn't call a 13 year old a Young Adult, though it is possible that certain individuals reach adult-like maturity early on. Adults just want to tell a librarian or bookseller their child's age and get an easy answer for what's appropriate for their child. I call for a return to using the label in its literal sense, rather than further confusing the situation.

Eric Berlin

Juvenile; Middle-grade; Young Adult. That's what it should be, but somehow Young Adult has come to encompass the entire kidlit genre, be it Sarah Dessen or Andrew Clements. I say I write "middle grade" to anybody outside the industry and I get blank looks.

I certainly don't see the need for "New Adult." Anybody ready for the books in that category will more than likely jump right to adult literature.

Kurt Hartwig

Would I be correct in assuming that it was a publisher who first suggested "Young Adult" as a category in the first place? My guess is that introducing a new range (MG -> Young YA -> Old YA) is meant to help booksellers and book buyers and, in so doing, create a new marketing niche where one currently doesn't exist

We probably don't "need" the category. It's an idea that will succeed only if a bunch of people see its value in monetary terms _and_ successfully capitalize on it. Which is to say, it probably won't work. I also expect that the original categorization of "Young Adult" happened after a critical mass of YA lit was out there. Though for all I know, a critical mass of "young young adult" and "old young adult" already exists.

Mostly it seems like a guy who wants a little more clarity in his life.

Maureen E

I'm 23 and I consider myself a young adult. I think the issue is that in the publishing world, YA is basically equated with teen. (If I'm wrong about that, please tell me!) It doesn't need to be, though, and I think that a new category would only confuse the issue.

Though for that matter, I plan to keep reading YA as long as I AM reading, so I'm probably not a good test subject.

Emily Brown

Oh Gosh, I totally think we should create new adult sections in libraries! I don't think it's a matter of splitting what is now considered YA--it's identifying those adult books that appeal to 20somethings.

I'm 28, and I remember being totally at sea when I first left the safe harbor of the YA section. I just didn't bond with the adult section the way I did with YA. And I've seen so many young people with the same lost look wandering through my library. Of course, I love recommending books to them, but I'd love even more to curate a collection for them!

Interestingly, I just read another blog post about this. It's got to be the zeitgeist.


Um...I think this is an interesting (read: good) idea.

It's kind of weird that books marketed towards middle schoolers have the same label as YA/A crossovers.

I know it's silly to just categorize and categorize until you're dizzy. But...I mean...it would be nice if we could just consider Young Adult in its literal sense again, except we can't. We can't take away all the baggage that comes with "Young Adult". So maybe a new name would help.


And I really liked that article. It was respectfully written, for once.


I'm pretty sure that he wants to introduce a new imprint at St. Martin's for titles like that: While that wouldn't necessarily help casual (read: not obsessive like... some people *cough*youandme*cough*) readers (who don't necessarily pay much attention to the imprints of their books) find crossover, it could be helpful to people who do a lot of guidance/recommending. (Or to the younger you, Emily, when you were At Sea In Grown-Up Land: I wish I'd known you then, so I could tell you about the Alex Awards!)

I think your point, Kurt, about already having a pile of Old Young Adult (or as a lot of librarians call them, Crossover titles -- mostly books published for the adult audience with teen appeal, but it definitely goes the other way as well) is fair. There are loads of books that fit the category, it's just a matter of identifying them. They make for good library displays, but as to whether or not bookstores (brick-and-mortar, anyway) would devote space to them... who knows?


As much as I'm not exactly keen on a new label (because if we have New Adult, do we need Old Adult?? People could just use the labels we already have more effectively...) I do feel like in libraries more identification would be good. Because while I don't care in bookstores - if I have money, you can't stop me from buying what I want - in libraries, it sometimes feels distinctly squicky/weird to be in your post-teen years and poking through the teen section. It makes other adults who don't share your reading interests look at you crazy, and I swear I am just WAITING to be misidentified as A Dangerous Adult and reported.

Maybe St. Martin's should get the ball rolling and see where it goes.


I first started working as a YA librarian twelve years ago (and, as it happens, before library school I worked for St. Martin's, which only published adult books back then). Anyhow, the YA section was nominally for middle and high school kids, but really, the only readers I ever saw were in middle school. These days, so many more YA books are published for high school readers that I can kind of see the point of new sections, but the thought of managing all the hair-splitting makes me tired. I'm thinking of recent books like Shut Out; Little Brother; Hold Me Closer, Necromancer; Jellicoe Road; Very Le Freak; et al. Books where high school and college kids are actually having sex, drinking, and lobbing the occasional f-bomb. I buy 'em and I love reading them, but part of me cringes at the thought of my sixth and seventh graders reading them. And then I remember that I read Forever when I was in sixth grade and I relax a little.


I think the use of YA for the teen years kind of old fashioned. Even I was a teen ten years ago I never thought of myself as a young adult. You weren't an adult until you hit 18 because then you could vote, drink, go to university. The library system I work in used to have a YA section but they changed to calling it Teen years ago.

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