"All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us." —J. R. R. Tolkien

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Is Anything Adult Anymore?

First off, a few things I can't forget!

1) A huge THANK YOU to everyone who stopped by The Book Roast on Tuesday! I so appreciate it. All your awesome comments made me look super popular.

2) Head over to The Spectacle for our Friday the 13th book giveaway. We're giving away The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman and The Farwalker's Quest by our very own Joni Sensel (this is an ARC with an epilogue which never made it to the hardcover).

3) Thank you to S. B. James for the introduction over on her blog!

4) The winner of The Book of Nonsense by David Michael Slater is Casey! Email me your address and I'll send it out! And thanks to everyone who entered!

*****

So I'm in our indie bookstore the other day, and I happened to be glancing at the Teen Fantasy section. My question is this:

Why are there so many "adult" books shelved in the teen fantasy section?

I saw The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger, the whole Across the Nightingale Floor series by Lian Hearn, and The Host by Stephanie Meyer just to name a few.

(And just a note: these are ALL fabulous books I truly enjoyed. But they are not teen books—at least they weren't published as teen books).

OK, The Host I can understand given the success on the Twilight series. But has the line simply vanished between teen fantasy and adult fantasy?
I notice this seems to be isolated to fantasy. As if the fact that things are not real justifies younger people reading them. I'm not saying I disagree, but I'm curious what your thoughts are.

(BTW, fans of The Time Traveler's Wife, did you see Audrey Niffenegger's next book, HER FEARFUL SYMMETRY, just sold at auction for 4.5 million and is scheduled for Fall 2009 publication?)

And Happy Wednesday!

32 comments:

Casey said...

How exciting - I've never won a book before! Thanks PJ!

I think booksellers are putting adult fantasy into the teen section because both fantasy and young adult are hot right now. The bottom line? They're trying to make more sales because a lot of their customers, teen and adult, are heading for that section.

beth said...

I have long felt that the line between teen and adult SFF has little to do with age and more to do with theme. Adult SFF tends to be harder--harder science, higher epicness to the fantasy elements. They tend to be more focused on world building than character building--and what character building there is seems (to me) to be more about Statement Character Building (i.e. the character finds Courage, or Sympathy, or, sometimes, Feminism).

On the other hand, I think teen SFF is less focused on the science and epic-ness, and more focused on characters.

I think it comes to this:
-adult SFF explores how a fantastic world works and the characters within it.
-teen SFF explores a new world and how that world AFFECTS the chracters--the characters react more than they exist

PJ Hoover said...

Yay, Casey! You are totally a winner! My son picked your number.

Theme. Very interesting point, Beth. I've never so much thought of it in those terms. But come to think of it, much of the fantasy I read in my twenties was more world building (though I still loved the characters).
I'll have to start testing this theory out.

Solvang Sherrie said...

I know that as a teenager I read a lot of adult books, some that my parents would probably be mortified to hear about! But back then we didn't really have YA books. Catcher in the Rye was shelved with classics and even though V.C. Andrews had children as main characters, I really don't think they were intended for 13 year olds.

I'm sure that with book sellers it comes down to economics. And since YA is still a growing genre, maybe they're trying to fill in with books that might crossover.

Not sure how I'll be reacting to that when my kids are reaching for "adult" books...

Maggie May said...

Wow that price tag is AMAZING. she hit the jack pot with Time Travelers Wife which I still have not read- despite hearing about it constantly.

D.A. Riser said...

It's the disappearance of America's youth. Right or wrong, kids today are exposed to everything at as young an age as possible.

lynn said...

My local library puts adult fantasy in the teen section as well--I think it's because the line between teen and adult fiction is so thin. I started reading 'adult' books in middle school. And since teens are reading now (hooray!) it makes sense to lure them into reading MORE with books that will keep them interested as they grow up [HA! as if we actually grow up :) ]

PJ Hoover said...

Ah, V.C. Andrews, Sherrie! What great memories those bring back. But you're right. Teen main characters, but I don't think intended for teens. Or maybe they were.

The Time Traveler's Wife is a great story, Maggie! It brought me to tears. And yes, totally on the jackpot!

The disappearance of America's Youth, Dan! That makes it sound so final. And sad. But true.

So the libraries do it too, Lynn? That's interesting because their goal is to get kids to read, not to buy books. A whole different spin on the matter.

Thanks for visiting!

Cynthia Leitich Smith said...

Did you also happen to notice whether more YA fantasies were shelved in the "adult" fantasy section (because YA has a huge crossover readership, too--about half of my reader mail comes from grown-ups)?

PJ Hoover said...

Now that is an excellent question, Cynthia. I will definitely check next time I am there. But would I look in the adult Fantasy section or the adult fiction section I wonder. I'll check both.

Lady Glamis said...

I think this is interesting, too. If you go to a small privately owned bookstore, perhaps you should ask the owner why he/she shelved the books there? That might give you some insight. :)

Feywriter said...

I think fantasy readers don't discriminate between the two. From personal experience, I read any fantasy that sounded interesting - adult or teen. Then again, our teen section of the public library was tiny, so I had to look on the regular shelves to satisfy voracious reading habits.

C.R. Evers said...

I went over and signed up for the contest. Yay!

I took a mini-lecture course in Fantasy literature and there was a time when all fantasy was considered to be for children. All of the earlier works of fantasy were automatically labled for children because back then they considered any made up worlds or magic to be only for kids. I think that's why there is sitll a difficult distinction today, because it's only fairly recently that fantasy has been given a seperate "adult" label. I think the line between adult and YA fantasy is difficult to discern because of its history.

Just my 2 cents.

Christy

PJ Hoover said...

Asking is a great idea, Michelle! My theory was it all comes down to increasing sales, but then Lynn mentioned the library.

Fantasy does seem to be an exception, Mary! I can't imagine finding Janet Evanovich in the Teen realistic fiction section.

So the history of fantasy comes into play, Christy. Interesting. And also maybe because so many fantasy main characters are teens, even in "adult" stuff.

Thanks for dropping by!

Tabitha said...

4.5 million?? Oh wow!! That's so exciting! A good friend of mine is good friends with Audrey, so now I've got to go tell her!

Wow, that's great news! Thanks for sharing!

lotusgirl said...

I think it's all about who the sellers and library think will be interested in a particular book. Fantasy does appeal a lot to teens and, as long as there is nothing inappropriate for them in the book, then it seems a good marketing strategy to put them where the readers will find them. I would think they put them in adult section as well as teen.

PJ Hoover said...

It is very exciting, isn't it, Tabitha! I can't wait to read it, too!

I think that line between what is appropriate and inappropriate is vanishing, Lois. Maybe that's the whole reason.

Thanks!

Angela said...

Congrats, Casey. Ad PJ, you are super popular!!

PJ Hoover said...

You think so, Angela???? Do you think I can get a date to the prom? Ah, the quest for popularity. :)

Kelly said...

Good post, I agree with a lot of the comments here already. Many adults read YA so it's one stop shopping! Plus teens want to grow up so fast too....

PJ Hoover said...

I remember wanting to grow up quickly, too, Kelly! Wonder why? But so true about one-stop shopping.

Keri Mikulski said...

Congrats, Casey!

Wait.. Did I just read 4.5 million???? I need to get back to work.. :)

I noticed a ton of chick lit books are in re-print and shelved YA - FISHBOWL is one I saw recently.

PJ Hoover said...

So chick-lit is making it's way into YA also, Keri? And yeah, I know. 4.5 million. So nice.

beckylevine said...

I was picking up Terry Pratchett books yesterday at the library, and they were in both the adult section and the teen section--obviously, he does fit both, but I was wondering about things being scattered around in a LIBRARY! :)

PJ Hoover said...

It does seem so scattered, Becky. Like multiple copies of everything are needed. I guess that's where computers for tracking come in handy.
Love your cover!

C.R. Evers said...

I almost forgot that sometimes they put cross over books in both sections of the library. Some publishers will have 2 different covers, one that appeals to adults, that will go in the adult section of the library and a cover that is more teenish. So, technically, one book can be both in the YA and adult section at the same time. I wonder if the Time Travelers wife is one of them.

Christy

D.A. Riser said...

I think we should all recommend to the libraries and bookstores to put our books in both the adult and teen sections. Just for purely helpful reasons, of course ...

$ $ $

PJ, it'd be, umm, very helpful to readers for libraries to purchase two copies of your book.

PJ Hoover said...

The cover was the same one I have for TTW, Christy. But I have seen those refitted novels with different covers which is so intriguing!

Now Dan, that is a great suggestion! Go libraries!

Happy Friday!

Christina Farley said...

That is bizarre about the teen section. I haven't been to a bookstore since last summer. I can't wait until we go home this year! It will be like heaven.

PJ Hoover said...

You will have a great time, Christina, when you get home!!!!!

Kelly H-Y said...

I have to admit ... hearing some of the books my 13 (almost 14) year old niece has read ... I was thinking she wouldn't be reading them if it were up to me! But, it's such an interesting phenomenon.

Did you catch the 'What is YA and Where Should We Put It?" article in the Jan/Feb 2009 issue of SCBWI? I thought it was an interesting article, and I'd literally JUST read it (yes, I'm a bit behind!! :-)) just a day or two before you posted on this topic!

PJ Hoover said...

I think I did read that, Kelly, and I'm about as behind as you (maybe a couple weeks ahead). I should go back and re-read it though.

Thanks for the comment!