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New Young Adult Teen Lit Grade Fiction?

The endlessly asked question: what does Young Adult mean? I'm a lumper rather than a splitter, so I'd be more or less happy to see bookstores divided into merely "fiction" and "nonfiction." Well, nonfic requires more subdivision to be helpful, but as a writer, and a reader too, I don't like all this pondering I have to do along the lines of, "It's kind of teen lit but kind of adult, and it's part paranormal, or maybe we should say urban fantasy, but part romance, and with both comic and tragic twists..." Yeah. It's fiction!

On a related note, I really like writing/reading the age 18-24 range--basically, college age--because a lot is changing in life then, as compared to high school. That's the true "young adult," if you ask me, and I'd call the high school stuff "teen lit." But it's far too late to change the industry terminology now. Some people have called books about the college age "new adult," and I've seen it applied to my books of that category (RELATIVELY HONEST and WHAT SCOTLAND TAUGHT ME), but introducing that distinction is splitting more instead of lumping more, so I don't think it's necessary.

Thanks to modmerseygirl for pointing me to that article and getting me rambling about it.


( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 26th, 2012 05:44 pm (UTC)
Over-categorization is strangling bricks-and-mortar bookselling: A couple of days ago I went into a local bookstore with my daughter to look for a book she wanted, only to find that in addition to all the separate grown-up shelving sections ("literature," "fantasy/science fiction," "romance," "mystery," "horror/suspense," etc.) the kids' section was divided into "early readers," "young readers," "juvenile," "teen," and "young adult."

After trying three or four sections with no luck, my daughter said "Never mind, Daddy." Holding up her phone: "I just ordered it from Amazon."

I would guess the bookstores think they're being modern and trendy, but they're missing the point: Amazon (or any other online seller) can cross-list a single book under multiple categories. If you try to create shelves for all those categories, you can't do that without far too many copies of each book.

So yes, "fiction" and "non-fiction" sound like good categories to me. Or if they must divide up their stores in such silly ways, perhaps a real-time online inventory and locator service, so we can figure out which shelf they have the darned book in. (Or hire more staff... right, like that'll ever happen.)

/end rant
Apr. 27th, 2012 12:56 am (UTC)
I'm completely with you! (And your kids sound so smart and funny, which does not surprise me at all.) The bookstores definitely need an inventory locator kiosk, or more than one for the big stores, so we don't have to decide if the book we're after is more horror or more suspense or maybe just mystery or what exactly, and is it even HERE?

My favorite used bookstore around here has a shelf labeled "vampire fiction," which goes so far into splitting that I actually find it kind of funny. (While also finding it depressing as a commentary upon publishing lately.)

Taking the kiosk idea farther, I'd like to see print-on-demand extend into the brick-and-mortar stores, the way the POD tech people have proposed. You browse the prototypes (printed books) on the shelves, and/or the inventory of every book ever made on the computers in store, then select one and have a fresh new copy printed out for you right there in the store on their POD machine. Getting the machines in place would be crazy expensive, but we'd surely be saving trees and shipping costs (and reducing shipping pollution from those big trucks) in the long run.

Also, then everyone in every bookstore in the world could print MY books. MINE. Just in case anyone thought I was being completely unselfish here.

Lumpers unite! (Well, of course they do. And splitters divide.)
Apr. 28th, 2012 04:09 pm (UTC)
Aw! I really enjoyed reading your thoughts, as always. :-D
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )