Thursday, March 08, 2007

New trend: teenagers buying books

This morning Sarah Weinman at Galleycat linked to an article in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. I clicked over to the PI and got a giddy little thrill from the headline, "Teens buying books at fastest rate in decades." Here's a juicy excerpt:

It's a time of strong writing and strong sales as readers in the 12-to-18 age group rock the marketplace.

"Kids are buying books in quantities we've never seen before," said Booklist magazine critic Michael Cart, a leading authority on young adult literature. "And publishers are courting young adults in ways we haven't seen since the 1940s."

Credit a bulging teen population, a surge of global talent and perhaps a bit of Harry Potter afterglow as the preteen Muggles of yesteryear carry an ingrained reading habit into later adolescence.

Not only are teen book sales booming -- up by a quarter between 1999 and 2005, by one industry analysis -- but the quality is soaring as well. Older teens in particular are enjoying a surge of sophisticated fare as young adult literature becomes a global phenomenon.

That's very good news for society and for the publishing industry. And for romance writers, too:

Fantasy and graphic novels are especially hot, and adventure, romance, humor and gritty coming-of-age tales remain perennial favorites.

There are a lot more kids in this new generation than I realized:

There are many reasons for the turnaround, not least the sheer size of the teen population -- well over 30 million kids with ready cash in their pockets. Called Gen Y or Millennials, they trail only the baby boomers in number.

"The publishing world has recognized that teens have a lot of disposable income, and they're willing to spend it," Nelson said. "They buy books. They (especially) buy paperbacks."

Excellent. I think I'll go write one.


Lynne W. Scanlon said...

Hi Brenda,

Would all this reading be taking place before or after getting a driver's license!

Lynne AKA The Wicked Witch of Publishing

Nell Dixon said...

My daughter is thirteen and she and most of her friends are really into sci-fi and romance and fantasy. I guess they are the Harry Potter generation.

Silas Pritchard said...

Its funny that you mentioned "Harryy Potter" because as a teacher, my wife has noticed a huge upswing in the elementary students reading YA novels ever since J.K. Rowling hit it big here in the US.

Brenda Coulter said...

Wicked Witch, it's always nice to see you here.

Nell and Silas, it's often said that the Harry Potter books are largely responsible for our kids' renewed interest in reading, but I suspect what we're seeing is simply a natural cycle. Bored with videos and computer games, kids have begun to discover how much fun it can be to read novels that stimulate their imaginations--and the Harry Potter books were in the right place at the right time.

goin2college said...

I'm a senior in high school and I have loved reading and writing ever since I was little. Alot of my friends read so I thinks the stats about teenagers buying books is really interesting.

Brenda Coulter said...

Since you're an enthusiastic reader, I'm sure you'll do very well in college. All the best to you, and thanks for visiting my blog.