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Who’s buying teen books? Lots and lots of adults

Christian Science Monitor

Published in The Christian Science Monitor.

A new study by Bowker Market Research just served to confirm something that many of us already knew: Many of the readers buying books aimed at the teen market are no longer teenagers. But the numbers are more dramatic than we may have guessed. According to the Bowker study, 55 percent of customers who buy young adult books are 18 or older. In fact, the largest group of readers purchasing titles labeled “young adult” are actually 30 to 44 years old – hardly the target demographic for the books.

Of course sometimes parents or grandparents may buy books for young readers but according to the survey, 78 percent of adults who were buying the young adult books said they were buying for themselves, not someone else.

“The extent and age breakout of adult consumers of these works was surprising,” said Kelly Gallagher, Vice-President of Bowker Market Research, in a statement. “And while the trend is influenced to some extent by the popularity of ‘The Hunger Games,’ our data shows it’s a much larger phenomenon than readership of this single series.”

Suzanne Collins’ dystopian trilogy isn’t the only one that’s gotten adults to wander over to the young adult section. The teen readers genre, which is officially slated for readers 12 to 17, has crossed age lines over the past decade as series like “Harry Potter,” “Twilight,” and “Hunger Game”s have appealed to adults as well as the younger readers at which they were aimed. The first “Harry Potter” book by J.K. Rowling was released in the United States in 1998, while “Twilight” by Stephenie Meyer was released in 2005 and the first “Hunger Games” book appeared on the market in 2008.

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