Monday, 21 May 2012

New Adult - The Next Best Thing or Completely Unnecessary

I'm coming across this phenomenon more often and I thought I'd share it with you all. Not everyone has heard about it yet, and I would love to have some more opinions on this.

The subject is the following:

Do we need another category of books between YA and adult books, called New Adult?

It's hard to find the source of this idea. It turns out the discussion has been raging for years. This article written by the wonderful Diana Peterfreund is very informative - without picking sides - on the subject. It tells how the genre originated. Here's the gist of it: in 2009 St. Martins Press kind of thought up the genre, and dared authors to write the books.

Let's take a closer look to what a "New Adult" book is. Basically it's older than YA but younger than adult. We're talking about 20-something characters. It contains topics that are too mature for YA books, but don't have the graphic sex or violence that adult books often contain.

It's 2012 now. The New Adult genre has been thought up three years ago and it still hasn't taken off. I talked about this to some people on Twitter, and most of them didn't even know there was such a genre. A few found it a good idea, saying they were looking for this exact kind of book. Others agree with me - we do not need this genre.

My first point is that there is no market for it. This idea has been there for a couple of years now yet I don't see any New Adult shelves anywhere. I don't see books carrying a New Adult label. The big publishers like making money. If there is something to earn they will do it. Young Adult is a very productive market and look at how fast the publishers jumped on that ship. I'm trusting their expertise in measuring up the market - if there was money to make with the New Adult genre, it would have been here already.

The second is that people that are advocating for the New Adult genre are mostly writers, not the readers. I came across this post, which boasts: "The New Adult category is a response to agents, editors and publishers". I find this rather ironic, since these publishers they're responding to have actually invented the genre. I completely get that it must be frustrating to hear that you have to "make the characters younger so they fit in YA" or "add more graphic sex so it's more adult". But to be honest these just probably aren't the right publishers for you.

There are countless books that should be categorised as New Adult but that are marketed as either YA or adult. These books are getting published - it's not like there is a massive void between YA and adult. On the top of my head I'm thinking of Grave Mercy, the Shifters series, the Newsflesh trilogy. There is so many cross-over these days genre-wise (adults reading YA, young adults reading adult) that to me it seems pointless to put another limiting label on these books.

That's my two cents, but I'd love to hear your opinion on this. Would you want a different genre for New Adult books?


Kat (AussieZombie) said...

Firstly, I think it's an odd genre name - New Adult?  Where do you draw the line?  Do you wake up at 21 suddenly an adult?  I wouldn't have called myself an adult until I was at least 25 and even now some days I still feel like a teenager!  The same could be argued about YA I guess, but it's more of a 'feel' to a particular book that makes it YA to me.

We have enough ways to classify our books as it is (and probably too many already!).  I think it's a little bit of overkill.

Celine said...

I hadn't thought about the name yet, but you're right. It's like you immediately transform into an adult when you turn a certain age. I doubt anyone feels like a "new adult".

The destinction between mature YA and NA would be so little it would be near impossible to shelf them correctly. I'm thinking longer series being split up to fit the categories.

Thanks for stopping by and sharing your opinion Kat (:

Pepca said...

I do not really see the nee for a new genre. You are never too adult to read young adult if that's what you like. And there is no finite definition when a person is old enough to read adult books, it all depends on the maturity of an individual. 

Carmel said...

I don't think that it's necessary; at least from the paranormal fiction pov. I don't read many other genres so I can't speak for those but that separation already exists in the form of Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance. The first is usually just grown up YA and the hero/heroine's age can range quite a bit while as the latter is typically on the steamier side.  

Anne said...

I'm not sure there's a need for a separate genre, but I sure would love to see more stories with protagonists in the 20's age range. Where are all the stories about going to college? We get a ton of "senior year" stuff, but then it just drops off into... nothing. I think that there are interesting issues to be addressed, but at the same time, it could easily be a subgenre, if it even needs that much labelling.  Considering it's been around for 3 years now (I didn't know that, by the way) I hardly think it'll take off as a genre in its own right.

Christina @ Biblio Thoughts said...

I like having the New Adult genre title mostly for my reviews. It's difficult fitting some books in either YA or Adult, because they just don't fit in either. So I was kind of happy to know that there was a title for such books that happen to be in the middle. So I now know that any book that has characters from ages 18-26 and "beginning" their not quite adult, not teen lives, or college age, are in the New Adult category. But if it didn't make categorizing my reviews easier, I don't think I'd really care about the New Adult title.

Ellie Warren said...

Neither young adult or new adult are genres though, they are just marketing terms, one of which is doing very for itself right now. There were no "young adult" books as I was growing up but there were plenty about teens. I've always thought young adult was meant to be about 16-24 anyway and some certainly have characters in their early twenties. But anyway, there are thousands of "adult" books that deal with things that happen in your twenties, as well as younger, and older. It's all just about what sells the most books :)

Leah said...

I think it's completely unnecessary. I've seen the 'new adult' label thrown around a few times and have to roll my eyes every time. You mentioned that New Adult is classified as such because of its content, yet I read some articles that, interestingly enough, state that YA novels would receive R-ratings if they were movies.

In the bookstore where I work, we wound up making a distinction between teen fiction (the more mature stuff) and young adult (mostly MG). For us it works. It just seems silly to make an entirely new genre.

Celine said...

Very true, Pepca. I actually started reading adult fantasy books when I was 14, and I never regretted it in any way. It's something everyone has to figure out for themselves.

Celine said...

Yeah, I think a lot of UF would have to be put in the "new adult" category, if not almost every one of them. UF is very accessible for a younger audience, I know it was for me. It took a little while until I enjoyed PNR. In paranormal fiction the extra "new adult" tag would be completely superfluous. Thanks for stopping by & sharing your thoughts Carmel!

Celine said...

There do seem to be quite little heroes/heroines that attend university or deal with find their first job. I guess that's a void that will fill by itself when the demand for these stories grow. Making it a sub-genre is actually a very good idea - I think that would be a smarter move than to make it a genre on its own. Thanks for stopping by Anne!

Andrea B said...

I don't know much about book marketing or labeling, but I do think that there aren't that many books that have college-aged characters, and that toning them down or just labeling them young adult is probably not the best idea. If its a matter of where they go on a bookshelf... well, books aimed at 17-22 year-olds should probably not be right besides books aimed for 12 year olds. I've recently met some awesome younger teens that are reading a lot of YA (and I think that's great!) but I just wouldn't recommend them reading a book like The DUFF just yet.
I kind of disagree that the publishers really know what the public wants (after all, it took them so many years to start publishing YA books that were "longer" and that only was post-HP). Many YA books that come out now wouldn't have been published last century. Maybe they just don't want to risk really going for something that is new and doesn't have an established readership. It's hard to predict what will succeed and what won't. I've heard that a lot of selfpublished authors that often heard that their book was good but that  there wasn't a market for it are doing OK. Anyway, a sub-genre or optional label is a good idea. Not as a ratings thing, but more as providing extra information for readers and parents. I also recommend this post:  by the author of "Easy" and the "Between the Lines" books ("New Adult" books that I wholeheartedly recommend)

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