Last week’s post, Sex and Swords, generated a lot of great comments and a sound discussion. In the post, I wondered whether the author I was comparing myself to was selling more books than me because his audience are adults. Given that both of us sell more ebooks than tree books, am I likely to sell less books because young adults do not have the access to ebook readers that adults enjoy? Wait a moment I need to tell my sons to get off screens and go play…
I wrote a post on another blog a couple of years ago and have taken material from there for this. There are a number of authors who have become bestsellers riding the ebook revolution. Amanda Hocking, J.A. Konrath, and my own marketing guru, John Locke. But none of these fine people write for young adults (10-18 year old) – my primary market for the Wycaan Master series.
Laura Hazard Owen recently wrote: “The children’s and young adult e-book market faces special challenges not shared by the adult market, new research shows. And teens are slow to adopt ebooks, in part because they do not see ebooks as a social technology and they think there are too many restrictions on sharing digital titles.”
She reached her conclusion based on two online surveys commissioned by PubTrack Consumer towards the end of last year who surveyed 1,000 teenagers and 1,000 parents of pre-teens. The details of the survey can be found here – Children’s Publishing Goes Digital. There are some interesting theories and statistics here. Firstly, youngsters are extremely social and want to share their books with friends and e-book technology is perceived as too restrictive. This is changing now and Amazon has been quick to identify this need. I thought that perhaps the teens did not have access to comfortable ebook readers. The majority has cell phones, but I am not including this. 60% of those surveyed receive technology from their parents as the latter upgrade.
Ms. Hazard Owen makes another excellent point It is not just young adults propelling YA books like the Hunger Games trilogy onto ebook bestseller lists:
– 30-44-year-olds constitute 28 % of YA print book sales and 32 % of YA ebook sales.
-18-29-year-olds buy the most YA books, purchasing 31% of YA print sales and 35% of YA ebook sales.
Making a decision to invest in the YA fantasy ebook market doesn’t look as attractive as genres aimed at adults, but this is going to change as more young people receive the necessary devices. Also, the realization that the YA market goes not from 12-18, but 12-44 year olds make for a more encouraging prospect.
A final interesting point is that this age group is more likely to buy a book because of a recommendation on a social network. Perhaps this prompted Amazon to make the investment to purchase Goodreads.
Now, please excuse me, this 49-year-old is going to read The Hunger Games, recommended to me by my 14-year-old son.
Alon Shalev writes social justice-themed novels and YA epic fantasy. He swears there is a connection. His latest books include: Unwanted Heroes and the 2013 Eric Hoffer Book Award for YA – At The Walls Of Galbrieth. Alon tweets at @alonshalevsf and @elfwriter. For more about the author, check out his website.