The Rise in Popularity of Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy
Guest Post by L.A. Miller
(Las Cruces, NM)—One of the most fascinating developments in the publishing industry over the last decade had been the explosion of the sub-market known as young adult (YA) fiction, particularly the science fiction and fantasy genres.
“Young adult fiction is booming even as the rest of the publishing industry struggles in this economy and wrestles with the advent of e-books—perhaps the biggest game changer since the paperback book,” says L.A. Miller, author of the new science-fiction and fantasy YA book series the Quests of Shadowind, which includes “Sky Shifter,” “The Grounding Stone,” and “Veil.” The Shadowind saga revolves around a group of kids who are abducted to an alien world inhabited by ghostly creatures, cyborg animals, and virtual humans—a land where anything is possible, including being downloaded into a cryptic, evil, role-playing game.
Similar books that offer an alternate reality–one similar to our own but chillingly different–are especially popular with readers. As Susan Katz, president and publisher of HarperCollins Children’s Books, told “The New York Times”: “Teen fiction is getting to be hot, hot, hot.” Indeed the children’s science-fiction/fantasy segment of the total trade book market is not only gaining market share but has tripled its growth rate. Children’s e-books, a category that includes young-adult fiction like the hugely popular “Hunger Games” trilogy, grew 12 percent in 2011, to $2.78 billion from $2.48 billion in 2010, reports “The New York Times.”
“The Wall Street Journal” reported that Hollywood studios have been grabbing the rights to science-fiction and fantasy YA book series, especially those that offer the potential for movie sequels and profitable licensing opportunities such as toys, clothes, collectibles, and memorabilia.
“YA books are an integral part of teen culture, along with TV series, movies, video games, cartoons, and the Internet. The tie-ins abound,” says L. A. Miller. “The Internet has become a major marketing tool thanks to blogs, Facebook, and Twitter.”
There are a number of indicators proving that YA has truly arrived:
* YA now has its own section in Barnes & Noble and other chain and independent bookstores.
* Many kids, already attuned to electronic devices, are getting their own e-readers for e-books.
* E-books made up 25 percent of all young-adult sales, up from about 6 percent a year before.
* Fantasy, paranormal romance, and science fiction continue to dominate kids’ e-book downloads.
* Best-selling authors JK Rowling (Harry Potter) and Stephenie Meyer (Twilight) kicked off the YA explosion.
* YA books often explore important issues such as the Holocaust, bullying, divorce, dying, sexual abuse, sexual identity, friendship, failure, success, love, war, etc.
“It’s a real historic moment for the publishing industry,” says Mr. Miller. “I believe this genre will stay popular for a long time. Even adult-fiction best-selling authors like Patterson, Grisham, and Bushnell are moving into young-adult fantasy genre.”