The other day I was in my local bookstore (ha-ha nothing new there) and I was perusing the Young Adult section. Another lady, roughly the same age, stood next to me staring at the same books. Every now and then she’d give me a sidelong glance. I thought maybe she needed some assistance in making her choice. So I offered my advice.
“I just finished reading this” I said, holding a top seller in my hand.
“It’ s a really great story if you’re looking for something new to read” I offered.
“Oh I’m not looking for, me my niece is turning thirteen, so I thought I’d look in the teen section,” she said with some undertones of judgment pulsating in my direction.
We continued to have a pleasant conversation and discussed what her niece did and didn’t like. After vetoing a few suggestions the lady happily left with my recommended books of “Fangirl” and “Eleanor and Park” (hello, commission please).
As she exited the store, smiling, my shoulders dropped slightly, did I belong in the YA section? I felt I suddenly needed a story, a rouse, or an alibi for why I, an adult, would be looking in the teen section. I don’t think I’m alone in this dilemma as according to a study by Publishers Weekly 55% of YA readers are adults and 28% of those are aged between 30 -44.
Since the largest purchasers of books are in this age bracket, maybe bookstores should make the YA section more welcoming to this demographic. Is this the reason for the popularity of eBooks in this age group (40%)? Anonymity. What do readers without an eReader (me) do, lurk in the shadows, with a trench coat, hat and dark glasses. I think the simple answer is for bookstores to change their signage from YA to YA and Crossover.
Do you feel guilty standing in the YA book section as an adult?