Josie has a post up about adults buying young adult books for their own pleasure, citing The Book Thief, Hunger Games and the Stephenie Meyer books as particular favorites among customers at The Flying Pig. I was musing about this topic the other day with the YA class over at Simmons, as we asked the question "what makes a book YA?" The students had read Stephen Chbosky's Perks of Being a Wallflower for the session, and it's a book that rather famously was denied consideration for the Printz Award because it had not been published specifically as a YA book. (Reading it again for this class revealed to me that it has not exactly held up well, either.) When I look at books like Madapple, The Book Thief, Octavian Nothing, Tender Morsels--basically, literary YA fiction--I wonder what the gains and losses were in publishing them as YA. These are all books that undeniably have a YA audience, but without an adult audience as well they would be unviable. But had they been published as adult, would they have an audience at all?
In the end, and assuming we will see a shrinkage of publishers' lists due both to economics and in the way people parcel out their attention to the various recreational media, I wonder if YA books (the high-schoolish ones, anyway) will become subsumed again into general trade fiction, reaching a dual audience without laying claim to either one in particular.