Recently I read many posts about the “new” sub-genre between Young Adult and Adult Fiction, New Adult. New Adult is a new emerging genre between the two sections targeting 16 through 23 year old readers. The content of the books features explicit sexual/romantic situations that occur to “new” Adults in that age range. Britain has jumped on the craze and now offers them to the younger readers as well (calling them “steamies”). Many of these were originally self-published books that blew up because of Internet buzz that are now being published in book formats (such as Beautiful Disaster, The Vincent Boys, and Crash). As far as it being “the hot new thing” all I have to say is this – New Adult is a marketing term, pure and simple. It has always been out there, it’s just now starting to rise to public awareness because publishers and authors are cranking it out. It’s not any different from any other marketing term. We’re just hearing more about it now.
For me, as a bookseller, it’s bothersome for one reason – the name. Give the readers all the salacious material they can handle. I have no problem with that. It’s the name NEW ADULT that grates on my nerves. When you say the name aloud to a customer it causes confusion. They can’t separate the NEW from the idea… they just think you are referring to something as a “newer” adult fiction title, and that is not good. It’s the same kind of confusion caused by asking for a Non-Fiction title as opposed to a specific derivation of Non-Fiction, like History, Sciences, or Sociology. It’s just too confusing as of yet to drop the term without having to explain what it is.
My thought is this – let’s call a spade a spade. It’s Young Adult Erotica, that is what it is. If you have scenes of titillation with proper terminology to genitals and orgasms than it is erotica. If you waft around the name for genitals and refer to it as a “blooming flower, soft petals,” or and other Romantic metaphor for them than it’s Romance, and then it should be called Young Adult Romance. Thus far at the bookstore we have been shelving the lion share of New Adult in Romance because of price point more than content. A larger quality paperback retailing at $15 gets shelved in Romance because Romance customers will pay that without batting an eye, as will younger readers buying from the Romance section. If a QP gets shelved in YA at $15, well, trust me, people notice. There are the exception to this – the Abbi Glines and Nicole Williams books have been released under Young Adult imprints, therefore they can be found there. Because they are cheaper rather than safer. Whether bookstores are going to make a separate shelf once the craze kicks up is any one’s guess.
Now, I can see why people, publishers and the like, do not want to call the genre “Young Adult Erotica”. It leaves a bad taste in the mouth, if you’ll pardon the pointed pun. So, what other names can we call it? I personally prefer the term “Mature Young Adult” or, at the very least “Older Young Adult”. Putting the word “Mature” in front of it isolates it from all the other categories, clears up the confusion, and lets people (specifically the parents whose ten year old reads YA) know that the content is not aimed at children. Let’s face facts, the Young Adult genre appeals to readers as young as ten and older (I have sold HP to octogenarians for their own reading). Harry Potter and Twilight both proved that a series will appeal to a wider range of ages. It is unsurprising that new categories of it are going to be formed to make money. Publishing is all about marketing and marketing is all about money. New Adult is making money, despite the unfortunate name. And it’s going to keep making money the more we talk about it.
Personally, I always thought a “young adult” was a 16 – 20 year old and a “teen” was the age that YA targets, 12/13-18/19. But that’s just me mincing words now. Unless that means that the Young Adult section has been improperly designated for years. Hmmm… food for thought.
Thoughts? Comments? Questions? Bueller? Bueller?