Source: (CC BY-SA 2.0 CollegeDegrees360
The other day, I was skimming through the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) archives.

…What? Don’t judge me. *Grins*

Anyway, I found a brochure from 2009 called Reading on the Rise: A New Chapter in American Literacy’. Huh. Not too long ago, right? So, I opened the PDF and had a look at their charts. All I could say was, “Holy sweet statistics, Batman!”

Source: (CC BY-SA 2.0 CollegeDegrees360
You know how I’m always preaching that categories like ‘new adult’ (NA) are around to give us expectations and not to dictate what we read? (I know. This is typically where I bust out my movie rating analogy.) Well, I’ve found something for our friends who disagree.

To some people, ‘new adult’ is a heat-seeking missile aimed at college students. You can talk about demographics until you’re blue in the face, but they’ll still drone on about how the 18-24 market doesn’t read outside of school. They think readership strictly correlates with the age of the protagonist—you know, because that makes sense. [1]
 
The point is: Even if that were the case, their complaints would still be unfounded.

According to the NEA’s Survey of Public Participation in the Arts, literary reading rates for those 18-24 rose 21% between 2002 and 2008. [2] That’s more than any other age range they studied. Of course, if you take out required reading, you’ll have a slight declination, but you know what the NEA calls that? ‘Not statistically significant’.

Maybe that’s their way of telling us to drop it. ;)

© Carrie Butler
Now, let’s go ahead and take the e-revolution into consideration. Since the NEA survey, we’ve seen a boom of e-readers and tablets. I wonder how many of those belong to our young, techno-savvy market? What about computers and smart phones?

…Exactly.  


The 18-24 market may not be the only audience we're writing for, but we shouldn't count them out. They are reading. 

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Let’s summarize with a little Q&A for the blog-skimmers:

  1. Are NA books solely intended for a college-aged audience? No.

  2. But if they were, isn’t it true that the 18-24 market doesn’t read outside of school? No, they’re reading more than they have in years. Check out the NEA study (PDF).


  3. So, categories don’t dictate what we read? *Eye twitch* Right. NA could appeal to anyone. Soccer moms, skydiving grandmothers, men waiting in doctors' offices, high school jocks on the bus to state finals, etc. The category is there to give you a content expectation.

  4. What should I say if someone tries to tell me NA is a marketing ploy? That depends. Is it a troll? If so, do not engage.

    If it’s anyone else, just tell them you respectfully disagree. It’s okay. :)

  5. What if they tell me the 18-24 market doesn’t have enough time/money to read? Ask them if they’ve ever met someone 18-24. They’re resourceful.

    (Then remind your conversation partner of Q&A #3.)

  6. What if they bring up the fact that most Big Six publishers don’t think NA is a real category? Ask them if the Big Six always considered YA a ‘real’ (marketable/profitable) category.


  7. Well, who does consider NA a real category? Check out our Publishing tab.  We have a great listing of NA-friendly agents and publishers.

  8. So, NA is happening? You better believe it! :)
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Have a great week, guys! ♥
1.     Sarcasm.