Dreaming Novel Things: Is the ‘New Adult’ Genre just another marketing ploy?

dreamingnovelthingsDreaming Novel Things is a feature in which I discuss book related subjects, but in a creative way. I’ll use interviews, narratives and lists to talk about book trends, book opinions and bookish matters. If you have any book related subjects you’d like to see me discuss just leave me a comment below!

The ‘New Adult’ genre seems to be all the rage lately. It’s a genre that has recently been made official and has since caused some controversy. But before we get into all that lets explore the definition of the ‘New Adult’ genre.

Here are a few different takes:

From Beyond Wizards and Vampires, To Sex at The New York Times“books that fit into the young-adult genre in their length and emotional intensity, but feature slightly older characters and significantly more sex, explicitly detailed.”

From The Guardian (UK), Would You Read Novels Aimed at “New Adults”?: “That’s the label that has been created for books in which the main characters transform from teenagers into adults and try to navigate the difficulties of post-adolescent life: first love, starting university, getting a job, and so on. The new genre is meant to be for readers aged 14-35.”

Over at Dear Author, Jane wrote New Adult: It’s not about the sex (but don’t be afraid of the sex either) ”New Adult, however, is not just sexed up YA, but an exploration of a time period in a character’s life. The post high school / pre responsible time period” and “New Adult is a time period and a feel — a newly emancipated person on the cusp of discovering themselves, where they fit into life, what allowances they will make, and how they relate to others. Their whole world is their oyster. The future is a bit more nebulous. The space for experimentation exists and the cast of characters varies widely, not just limited to the over the top billionaire but has room for the pierced, tattooed, low income, and all those in between.”

So the general consensus seems to be the group of people fresh out of high school to right before the time that they start to settle down and start a family of their own. Some ask is the new genre really necessary? Do we need a term for such a specific age range? Why won’t romantic fiction or urban fiction do? Is this just a marketing ploy to get us to buy books?

I’ll tell you where I’m leaning towards, marketing ploy. Jamie McGuire, author of Beautiful Disaster says “Bookstores didn’t have a place for novels about college-aged students so publishers were unable to sell it,”  (Source)

But that’s not necessarily true, look at The Sorrows of Young Werther and Girl Interrupted. There are tons of books that fit the required definition of New Adult, but were never marketed as so.

I’m thinking, that the readers that read Twilight, The Hunger Games and Harry Potter have grown out of the young adult phase. They are ‘New Adults’ now and the market is trying to keep up with them by packaging another genre to sell to them. Lets face it, this is not an entirely new idea. The term ‘teenager’ didn’t even exist years ago, but teenagers are one of the biggest consumer markets. So marketers made it happen. Is that what’s going on here?

To be honest I can’t fairly judge the genre as I haven’t read any ‘New Adult’ books. So this is a to be continued post. I’ll read some of the popular ‘New Adult’ books out there and determine whether I think the new genre is justified or whether the books would fit just as perfectly somewhere else. Look for the next post on this subject next month where I give my official opinion.

Do you think the books will change my mind? What’s your opinion on the ‘New Adult’ genre? Share below and happy reading!

8 thoughts on “Dreaming Novel Things: Is the ‘New Adult’ Genre just another marketing ploy?

  1. As someone with a literary blog, I love the conversation of the book market. I think it is just a marketing ploy, as we can see that it is a moneymaking game rather than a literary conquest. You’ve really given some great points about the argument, and I loved reading this. Great post!

  2. There are plenty of books that fit that area topic-wise, but there’s never a need to make an entirely new genre for them. Catcher in the Rye didn’t need a new genre to sell. I’m with you on the marketing ploy.

  3. I think it’s a marketing ploy because there’s long been similar novels on the market like the Jessica Darling series. It sold really well without the need for a so-called new genre.
    Furthermore, there’s no hard and fast rule defining what a “New Adult” novel is. So what’s the point of having a “New Adult” genre when everyone’s not 100% sure what a “New Adult” novel is?

    • Exactly! I’m so tired of hearing how there wasn’t a market for the 20-something-age group when it’s completely untrue. Yeah, if we could agree on one single definition of “New Adult” we would make some progress but I think marketers will twist it every which way depending on what sells best. Really great points, thanks for reading! 🙂

  4. I haven’t read any New Adult books, but from what I’ve heard I personally believe that it is probably a marketing scheme. I don’t really understand our obsession with categorizing books into different ages and groups, as if you can only read them when you are that age and not before or after. People shouldn’t feel like they can only read certain books at certain times in their lives. Anyways, that’s just my two cents. 🙂 Great post!

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