I recently picked up Veronica Rossi’s newest duology, Riders and Seeker, and as I was reading these books, I was reminded of a conversation I had with a friend about marketing for young adult books. We were browsing in the YA section of a very large bookstore where the YA section is quite large. As we were talking about recent YA novels we’ve read and loved and which we recommend to each other, I noticed something about this section. It seemed heavily geared towards female readers. Young adult covers are often lovely, shiny jewel-like covers that I crave to showcase on my own shelves. But there’s a demographic that’s not as well represented—and that’s a certain kind of teen boy.
What are the 15, 16, 17 year old boys reading? And how are they finding out about those books? I bet it’s not by hanging out in the YA section of a bookstore. It’s not that these books are missing; I asked my friends familiar with the demographic I’m concerned about for recommendations and got an avalanche of responses. It’s that there’s a general impression that the YA category is too much about romance and teen angst, and this particular reader is looking for something that perhaps comics, graphic novels, and adult science fiction fulfill in a better way.
Boys are more often categorized as reluctant readers than girls. But if I wanted to attract the reluctant reader set to a YA section in a bookstore, I’d hand them Rossi’s Riders on a dare. I’d be willing to bet that after they’ve read it, they wouldn’t be so shy to seek out more like it. And I know they will find tons of things worth reading.