The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

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September 28, 2012

Lee Duran: YA books appeal to adults as well as kids

JOPLIN, Mo. — Erotica is not the only book genre on a roll these days. Children’s books are also riding high, with YA -- Young Adult aimed at the 12-17 age group -- leading the way.

Publishing revenues for children’s books rose 12 percent to $2.78 billion last year, while e-books made “astounding gains,” according to BookStats, a collaboration of the Association of American Publishers and the Book Industry Study Group.

There’s a surprising statistic tucked away in there. A new study says that 55 percent of YA books are bought by adults and, of those, 78 percent are buying the books for themselves, not some kid, reported Publishers Weekly.

Scholastic reports that 50 percent of the readers of “The Hunger Games” are adults. And more than half of the readers of the best-seller “Divergent” by Veronica Roth are at least 25 years old, according to a HarperCollins spokeswoman.

“The investigation into who is reading YA books began when we noticed a disparity between the number of YA e-books being purchased and the relatively low number of kids who claim to read e-books,” said Kelly Gallagher, vice president of Bowker Market Research. “The extent and age breakout of adult consumers of these works was surprising.”

I bought the “Hunger Games” e-book for myself and liked it. And I’m an OA (Old Adult), not a YA.

The trend is good news for publishers as these adult consumers of YA books are among the most coveted demographic of book consumers overall, says PW. Additional insights from the Bowker study show these readers are:

  • Early adopters: More than 40 percent read e-books, equivalent to the highest adoption rates of adult genres of mystery and romance.
  • Committed: 71 percent say that if an e-book of their desired title was unavailable, they would buy the print book instead.
  • Loyal: Enjoying the author’s previous books has a moderate or major influence over the book choice for more than two-thirds of the respondents.
  • Socially active: Although more than half of respondents reported having “no interest” in participating in a reading group, these readers are very active in social networks and often get recommendations from friends.

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