Before JK Rowling, critics and experts predicted that young adult (YA) literature would finally die, as sales continued to decline. In 1997, a mere 3,000 YA books were published. A decade later that number was 30,000.
The success of Harry Potter changed everything. YA is now embraced by teenagers and adults alike – a 2012 Bowker Market Research study in the US found that 55 per cent of people buying YA books are over 18.
We’re currently living in the second golden age of YA literature. But why is there a sudden demand for these coming-of-age books?
Apart from the undeniable quality of the books themselves, a generation of online readers are creating new ways to discuss, dissect and celebrate their favourite stories. And it’s driving sales in a big way.
Take John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars (2012). It reached #1 on the Amazon and Barnes & Noble bestseller lists six months before the book was published. It received thousands of five-star reviews, ranked by readers who hadn’t even held their copies.