Young adult fiction is propping up publishing world
Fiction aimed at young adults is keeping the publishing industry alive, one of the country’s top publishing gurus has claimed.
Barry Cunningham, founder of Chicken House, said fiction aimed at teens and young adults was one of the only areas in children’s book publishing that was burgeoning.
Speaking at the Federation of Children’s Book Groups annual conference, he told delegates that publishers had a duty of care when releasing books for this niche market.
“It is an area that has a very wide variety – from brutal realism, vampires and fantasy,” he said.
“We are finding that publishers are publishing two or three editions of the same book: for children, adults and for movie goers.
“It is probably the only kind of category registering any growth and it is probably saving the publishing industry.”
Young adult books are those that are aimed at teenagers, but which have been read and enjoyed by adults. Among the titles that fit into that genre are John Boyne’s Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, and the Harry Potter series.
Mr Cunningham, famed for discovering JK Rowling while working at Bloomsbury, was speaking at an event in which he introduced two emerging authors signed to Chicken House, Sharon Dogar and Rachel Ward, whose recent works Falling and Numbers have been tipped for success in both the children and adult sectors.
Aimed at the mid to late teens, both books have teenage protagonists. They are aimed at teenagers, but are also picked up by the adult book-reading market.
But the Frome-based publisher warned publishers not to take advantage of the market and flood it with the wrong kinds of book.
“It’s dangerous from my point of view,” he said at Worth Abbey School, in Turner’s Hill, West Sussex.
“I believe absolutely, fundamentally and obsessively that they are children’s books. They describe experiences that are emerging from a teenager’s point of view,” said Mr Cunningham.
“These are not books that happen to have teenagers in them. They are not there for adults, essentially. While it is lovely to have books that the whole family can enjoy, they are not for grown ups.
“We have to make sure that our publishing colleagues don’t see this crock of gold and pool anything into it.
“We are about great books for young readers.”