As you may remember, I did a poll about New Adult Readership.
The results? Well, I think it has more to do with my readership. No one under 18 responded; and since I used the free version of SurveyMonkey, I only have access to the first 100 responses.
The data: 84 of the 100 said they either read, or would be interested in reading, “New Adult” titles. 16 said they would not.
Of those interested in reading, the age range in descending order: 39%, ages 23-29; 27%, ages 30-35; 26%, over 36; and 18-22, 6%.
Of those not interested in reading, the age range in descending order: 59%, ages 23-29; 18%, ages 30-35; 18%, over 36; and 18-22, 6%.
While I think this shows more about my readership, I take some bigger things away from this. First, readers are interested in reading beyond “the ages I am,” if New Adult = college aged. At that same point, one cannot assume that college aged means someone wants to read about college aged.
ABC News has an article out, Emerging “New Adult” Book Genre Puts Smut Fiction on Bestseller List. I’ll be honest: as a reader (not a New Adult reader, but a reader) I find this offensive as well as inaccurate. I also believe the use of “smut” is about shaming the reading choices of young women, which is a way to shame them about their sexuality. I also believe that it’s being used to create unnecessary “oh noes” by attempting to make it seem like this is a teen-reader phenomena: “Now there is a new genre merging the “young adult” fan base with “erotic fiction” fans. It’s being called “new adult.” The implication, of course, is that fan base is teens, but as that article and most articles show, the readership is of people in their twenties; and yes, they read “young adult” books but guess what? If you’re a twentysomething reader, chances are you read young adult as a teen. Because you were a teen. As some studies have shown, favorite authors and genres have created reader loyalty so that non-teens read and continue to read young adult books. Still, that does not make “smut fiction” (please) a “thing” amongst teen readers or being driven by teen readers.
ABC Nightline also did a program: ‘New Adult': Sexy New Book Genre for Young Adult Readers. It begins, and has some reporter questions, as annoying as the article. Note how the books described are not the “smut” of the article title (hello, Twilight is now “smut” according to Nightline — one of the most famous works championing abstinence is now “smut”). Still, watch it — because what is excellent and terrific are the actual interviews with the authors and readers (none, by the way, who are young teens). (I’m not sure how stable the link to that article will be; try the ABC Nightline website if it doesn’t work.)
What bothers me most about the sensationalism about those two articles is that there are real things to discuss: self-publishing meeting needs that weren’t recognized by publishers; what readers want influencing what is being published; what these books actually are; whether this is indeed a thing or a passing fancy.
Last month, The Christian Science Monitor ran an article, Is a ‘new adult’ genre the step between YA and adult books? This held the interesting, and a bit disturbing, statement: “many agree that it’s a group title for books that are more mature than young adult titles – a literary category that may serve as a stepping-stone for readers moving beyond the young adult fold.” While it’s nice to see the books being talked about in a non-sexytimes way, I don’t agree that readers need a “stepping stone” between young adult and adult books.
Meanwhile, over at The Telegraph there is Sex in Young Adult fiction – a rising trend?, making this seem (like other articles) like a teen-reader trend. I guess “grown women like to read books about grown ups” doesn’t quite grab the attention, does it? (Also, I’ll share something else: most teen readers I know are well aware where the romance books are in bookstores and libraries and yes, they read them. It’s not new…. teens have been reading adult books since, well, we’ve had teens and books. But, really, that’s beside the point because “New Adult” is about readers who aren’t teens.)
Over at the YALSA Blog, they have a series on Trendspotting and a recent post was on New Adult. One of the things that Sarah does with that post that I really like is puts the genre within the context of all media, mentioning TV shows that may fit the genre/reader need.
One last thing: a general poll to you, dear readers. I’m going to read and review and least one New Adult book for this blog: what book do you suggest?