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New Adult Books–a category between young adult book and adult books

December 22, 2012

I meant to post the industry news today, but got the dates crossed up, so now I need to post something new today, too. I hate when that happens. Fortunately, there are enough industry trends to help me through this little self-created mess.

For instance, an article in yesterday’s New York Times that talks about a new sub-category between young adult and adult called New Adult. The article says new adult books have about the same length and emotional intensity of young adult books, but have slightly older characters and lots more sex–complete with descriptions. The Times calls it “‘Harry Potter’ meets ’50 Shades of Grey'”. The books are aimed at 18-to-25 year olds and some are starting to filter out. (The article provides examples.)

As a cynic, and a former teenaged boy, part of me wonders if the slightly older characters and the statements of marking to a slightly older crowd aren’t a wink and a nod, with the actual target audience being a little younger. Put another way, if I’m 16 and there’s a book that’s like Harry Potter but it includes some explicit bedroom scenes, I’d probably try to read it. Teenagers want to see, hear, and read everything about sex that they can get their hands on, and their parents try to prevent that. In a world where there’s a whole genre called Mommy porn, is this really a surprise?

The non-cynic in me has to admit, there’s probably more to it than that. Given the success of Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, and Twilight with adult audiences, it’s natural for publishers to look for ways to tap that market further. Why not a hybrid between the young adult books that are doing well and adult books? New adult titles are growing like crabgrass in Goodreads. Successful authors such as Meg Cabot, the author of the Princess Diaries, are starting new adult series. Self-published author Jamie McGuire signed a deal with Simon & Schuster about a “good girl with a dark past” who goes to college and finds amore with a tattoo-covered bad boy, after self-publishing and selling 200,000 copies.

So what do you think of this new category? Is it necessary? And if you’re a parent, will you be on the look out for these titles in case your darling angel decides to do a little biology homework on the side?

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