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Thread: Has interest in YA died down? Are there no huge titles anymore?

  1. #1
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    Has interest in YA died down? Are there no huge titles anymore?

    I feel like I've been out of the loop in the YA world since I don't really write it anymore, but I noticed that there was such a frenzy in 2009-2012 surrounding YA that I just don't really see anymore. Even this section of AW seems to be a bit less active than it used to be at its peak time, or is it just me? How is the YA market changing, do you think? What does it mean for the gap between midlist and big name authors - that is to say are there more midlist authors than ever?

    And if the YA book is gone then where has the enthusiasm moved to?

  2. #2
    practical experience, FTW Antipode91's Avatar
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    I'd say YA has died down since that burst. Even if you go to B&N, you'll notice their best sellers tab is "Divergent; Hunger Games; Maze Runner; Harry Potter." Old books.

    That said, I wouldn't say it's gone. Just died down. There's still series like the Grisha trilogy that's being turned into a movie right now.

    I write YA, and the problem with YA to me is that it's become a little cliche and lazy. Even Grisha, which is better than most, has a lot wrong with it.

    Harry Potter popularized the school/magic setting.
    Twilight repopularized the paranormal romance.
    Percy Jackson tried to jumpstart the male adventure, and had good success for its time.
    Hunger Games popularized the dystopia
    Divergent ended the dystopia

    There's no new ideas really floating out there--everything feels kind of the same. Right now YA is just waiting for another trendsetter. It'll come.

    I'm still waiting for an author to blend YA, cool powers, and deep emotional trials. I feel like YA has spent too long in the same teen issues, when teens are ready to tackle meatier topics (which, I think, is why Hunger Games did so well).

  3. #3
    Beastly Fido Roxxsmom's Avatar
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    The YA book certainly isn't gone. There are many titles, and it still seems to be a very popular demographic overall.

    YA fantasy and SF seems to be doing fairly well. There are lots of titles, at least, and some have been nominated for big awards in the genre over the past few years. These novels don't rock the NYT bestseller lists the way books like The Hunger Games or Twilight did, but they're popular with fans of SFF, and they're not all the same thing over and over. Sometimes there's cross marketing with adult fantasy or SF. Books like Updraft, Uprooted, Archivist Wasp, and Every Heart a Doorway (a novella, but sold as a novel), come to mind.

    I don't know as much about contemporary YA titles. The ones I can think of that were huge bestsellers--The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, The Fault in Our Stars etc.--were from a few years back.

    Maybe YA has reached an equilibrium though. It was wildly popular a few years back, with agents and editors all looking for the next big YA (or MG, which the initial HP books actually were, not YA) sensation. Now it's going to be harder for any one book, however excellent, to nab the lion's share of the market. There are many fans, but there are also many titles, so it's harder to stand out from the crowd. Doesn't mean a good YA book can't do well.
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    Quote Originally Posted by AndreaX View Post
    How is the YA market changing, do you think?
    YA-age readers have a lot to choose from and that includes spending time online. Less time to read = less books sold. It's even much more fun watching videos on Youtube with book reviews than reading the books themselves

  5. #5
    There's a stick up there Kjbartolotta's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Curlz View Post
    YA-age readers have a lot to choose from and that includes spending time online. Less time to read = less books sold. It's even much more fun watching videos on Youtube with book reviews than reading the books themselves
    The teens I meet and interact with love them video games and youtube channels, but I am firmly convinced teens & younger people are more enthused about reading these days than they ever have been before.

  6. #6
    Beastly Fido Roxxsmom's Avatar
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    This is a link to the NYT bestseller list for YA.

    https://www.nytimes.com/books/best-s...ult-hardcover/

    Here are a couple of articles I found about the state of the young adult maket.

    https://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/...ya-trends.html

    https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry...b0a904ef59ed88

    http://paperfury.com/2017-ya-genre-trend-predictions/

    http://www.readbrightly.com/ya-books-2017/

    https://www.thebalance.com/the-young...market-2799954

    Overall, they state YA is still doing well, but trends wax and wane. Trying to chase today's most popular trend is likely to end in frustration, because something else will likely be big by the time a book started today hits the shelves.

    Don't forget that adults read YA. Most YA titles are purchased by adults, whether it be as gifts for teens or for themselves (or both).

    Amid all the doom and gloom about kids being too distracted or overscheduled to read books anymore, there are also statistics that suggest that teens read more than most adults, and that they may be reading more than their parents did at the same age.

    https://blogs.wsj.com/speakeasy/2011...tracted-youth/

    Anecdotally, I've noticed that the teens who read tend to read a lot (a couple of my nieces fit this profile), while the ones who don't love to read so much tend to read very little (unless strongly encouraged by their parents and teachers). This isn't so different from how it was when I was a kid (I read prodigiously, while my brother had to be forced to crack a book), and it's actually not so different from how it is with adults these days either (the casual reader appears to be a shrinking demographic). When I was a kid, people blamed television (and later on, the advent of VCRs) for a decline in reading among youth. Then it was computer games and the internet that were blamed. Now its phones and the ability to constantly chat with friends via text and social media.

    For teens and adults alike, I suspect a relatively small percentage is responsible for the majority of book sales. I'm not sure this is a new thing, though maybe it's intensified in recent years.

    Another thing to remember is that YA is a broad category that falls across most fictional genres. It's not just the genres mentioned in the OP.

    According to many of the sources I've seen, there seems to be more interest in marginalized (and own) voices than from a few years ago. Graphic novels and fantasy are also increasing in popularity.

    Also:
    But while we observe current trends, we prefer to follow our hearts—we’re drawn to and look for gorgeous voices and authentic stories with an emotional core. I think that we’ll be seeing some surprising and imaginative work in the near future, projects inspired by the presidential election and our current climate of unease, resistance, and protest.
    Last edited by Roxxsmom; 11-26-2017 at 05:09 AM.
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  7. #7
    practical experience, FTW JKRowley's Avatar
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    It still seems every movie is from a book, and many of them are YA. Everything, Everything has been popular. Wonder, which isn't YA but for kids, is getting a new breath of popularity due to the movie. John Green has a new book out which is sure to be a best seller. I just read a couple of YA novels The Hate U Give and Simon Vs. the Homo Sapien Agenda. Both are being made into movies. I think YA is still popular, but there hasn't been a sensational hit in books for awhile.
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    Obviously I'm biased, but I think there's tons of great YA being published right now, in all different genres. It may not have the name recognition of HP or THG, but many series and authors have devoted readers, going by the enthusiasm I see on social media (which is not the same as sales, I realize). #Ownvoices contemporary and court-intrigue fantasy (which has a lot in common with dystopia) are particularly popular.

    A lot of books that could easily be marketed as adult literary, such as Kathleen Glasgow's GIRL IN PIECES, are still being sold as YA. That makes me think adults are buying YA, even if these are more the lifelong readers and not the casual readers who picked up Twilight or THG because everybody in the office was talking about it. Books like Angie Thomas's THE HATE U GIVE (which has been on the NYT list since it came out) are speaking to topical concerns in a big way. And then there are Sarah J. Maas's books, which seem to be a huge cross-over hit with romance readers (and have a high heat level for YA). Not all my favorites are top sellers like these, but there is a lot of healthy variety out there.

    I have also heard, just anecdotally, that MG is the site of a lot of action right now. That doesn't necessarily mean YA is languishing — six-figure deals still get announced frequently. But it has become very crowded and competitive, probably precisely because of its success. Which I would guess means there are more midlist authors, even if you have the same number of big sellers.

    A number of YA imprints and smaller presses have closed or changed ownership in the past five years (Egmont, Strange Chemistry, Spencer Hill, Flux). That could be evidence that parts of the market are shrinking.

    But I'm not an editor and just guessing at a lot of this, so I'll stop now.
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  9. #9
    Hopelessly Hopeful Tromboli's Avatar
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    I think YA isn't "the" category anymore, meaning just that it's evening out with adult and MG.

    It's still big, it still has a lot of space, and a lot of influence. Publishers are still buying books. Publishers are still shoving out *a lot* of money for YA books, even. (Child of Blood and Bone last year got one of, if not the biggest, debut advances ever. Around the same time (this time last year), my PW mentee also go a 6 figure advance.(and I know there are more but those are two I know about specifically) but the market is definitely different than it was, I'm just not sure that's a bad thing.

    People have always said though that the YA bubble was going to burst at some point. It was too big for it's own good. It was bound to settle at some point and that time appears to be now. We don't have any MASSIVE breakouts, but there are lots of best sellers that are doing very well, there just isn't a major trend atm. Which does make it a little harder for the little guy to break in. Publishers are looking for something to stand out, if it doesn't you'll have a hard time placing it (and standing out is hard when everyone is trying to do it!)
    Last edited by Tromboli; 11-26-2017 at 08:08 PM.
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  10. #10
    There will be another huge YA series soon, I think we're just in-between them at the moment.

    Does anyone have any idea as to what the next big them will be? Time travel, or space opera perhaps?
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  11. #11
    practical experience, FTW Antipode91's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Will Collins View Post
    There will be another huge YA series soon, I think we're just in-between them at the moment.

    Does anyone have any idea as to what the next big them will be? Time travel, or space opera perhaps?
    I don't have a guess on the genre that will become the next big thing, but I do believe it'll be plot-driven, rather than character-driven. I think the YA market is weak on plot-driven stories, and it's what's truly going to stand out. Think Maze Runner.

  12. #12
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    If the YA thing has died down, now would be the perfect time to be writing one

  13. #13
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    I don't think it's died down at all. Tahereh Mafi (the iconic queen of YA & literature in general) just announced three new Shatter Me books and has a TV show of her series in the works. I'm pretty sure they still plan on turning the Selection series by Kiera Cass into a movie, which should be interesting to see translated to screen. I'd say there aren't any big hunger Games level hits right now, but the good material is there, just not getting so much attention.

    Marie Lu is about to put out a new series, I think, and Richelle Mead still has a book left in her Glittering Court series to go. I doubt we'll see YA or prolific YA authors died down any time soon, if I'm being honest. Especially since the genre as a whole is more accepting of experimental plots and genre-blending in a way adult books really aren't. Amanda Hocking is about to drop the first book in her new sci-fi and fantasy blend Between The Blade and the Heart--I have an ARC and it seems interesting and ambitious so far.

    To be honest I think YA is more exciting than it's ever been. We just need another phenomenon on our hands. First it was paranormal romance, then dystopian, and now that the contemporary trend John Green kicked off is dying, we're bound for something new. People keep saying fantasy is dwindling down but Game of Thrones is about to end, so people will be craving a fantasy fix at least until HBO's first spin-off launches. And SJ Maas is doing pretty damn well for herself, especially with a Throne of Glass tv show about to start production any day now.
    Last edited by JinxKing; 11-27-2017 at 12:07 PM.
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    2018 is stacked with YA fantasy releases, and based on the sales I've seen for 2019, it's certainly not dwindling. I'm very curious to see if any of the upcoming TV/movie adaptations catapult a particular series into the stratosphere. I thought Red Queen was poised for it, especially as Elizabeth Banks was attached to direct the movie, but it hasn't reached that tipping point yet.
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    Didn’t Children of Blood and Bone get like a 7-figure movie deal? That’s pretty frikkin huge, especially when taking into account that it’s a debut. I may be biased, but it seems to me that the next big thing in YA is diverse, Own stories. I feel like those are the ones getting a big advances and the most hype and I hope this means we get to see more of them hit the big screen soon.
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  16. #16
    Hopelessly Hopeful Tromboli's Avatar
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    Children of Blood And Bone is definitely poised to be the next huge thing, at least by publisher expectations. But what publishers expect is not always what happens. Like they spent TONS of money on The 5th Wave when it came out, expecting it to be the next Twilight/Hunger Games (including a big movie deal). And it did well (I loved that book tbh) but with 750k in just marketing budget... it never reached the heights they expected. The movie stalled, not signed on for any sequels, the sequels to the books kind of dwindled. It was never the big franchise they were hoping for.

    That's because the audiences choose what it falls for, not the publishers/marketers. Even they can't anticipate those trends, or force them.
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  17. #17
    Hopelessly Hopeful Tromboli's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JinxKing View Post
    I don't think it's died down at all. Tahereh Mafi (the iconic queen of YA & literature in general) just announced three new Shatter Me books and has a TV show of her series in the works. I'm pretty sure they still plan on turning the Selection series by Kiera Cass into a movie, which should be interesting to see translated to screen. I'd say there aren't any big hunger Games level hits right now, but the good material is there, just not getting so much attention.

    Marie Lu is about to put out a new series, I think, and Richelle Mead still has a book left in her Glittering Court series to go. I doubt we'll see YA or prolific YA authors died down any time soon, if I'm being honest. Especially since the genre as a whole is more accepting of experimental plots and genre-blending in a way adult books really aren't. Amanda Hocking is about to drop the first book in her new sci-fi and fantasy blend Between The Blade and the Heart--I have an ARC and it seems interesting and ambitious so far.

    To be honest I think YA is more exciting than it's ever been. We just need another phenomenon on our hands. First it was paranormal romance, then dystopian, and now that the contemporary trend John Green kicked off is dying, we're bound for something new. People keep saying fantasy is dwindling down but Game of Thrones is about to end, so people will be craving a fantasy fix at least until HBO's first spin-off launches. And SJ Maas is doing pretty damn well for herself, especially with a Throne of Glass tv show about to start production any day now.

    Honestly, all of this to me looks more like the industry trying to replicate past success, not examples of current. They're still trying, and some things are still going well, but it's not what it was atm. Those are all books that found big success several years ago that they want to try to push into franchise territory, or authors of past big books they hope may be able to push out another big seller.

    If we're just talking about YA selling well, then of course it hasn't busted. But if we're comparing YA to the behemoth it once was... it does seem to have dropped.

    What we need to something NEW that's huge IMO, to show that YA is still the trend setters. But I kinda feel like we already hit two of biggests books trends...and they weren't YA (Game Of Thrones and Outlander). Showing that maybe YA isn't in the spotlight anymore. That's doesn't mean YA isn't still big, isn't still highly successful... just that it isn't the biggest book category in the land atm. Which is okay, IMO. All trends shift and change and right now, I see things shifting somewhat, but not totally, away from YA and giving the spot light to some other things.
    Last edited by Tromboli; 11-30-2017 at 07:20 PM.
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  18. #18
    Becoming a laptop-human hybrid Fuchsia Groan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tromboli View Post
    What we need to something NEW that's huge IMO, to show that YA is still the trend setters. But I kinda feel like we already hit two of biggests books trends...and they weren't YA (Game Of Thrones and Outlander). Showing that maybe YA isn't in the spotlight anymore.
    Not to dispute your point about YA, but the first Outlander book was published in 1991. I remember those being hot sellers with the romance crowd waaaay back when I worked at B&N. The GoT books weren't published too recently, either. So the fact that both are selling so well now demonstrates that TV can transform backlist books into huge multimedia sensations. Then this cross-pollinates as YA editors seek books that they can pitch as "Outlander for teens" (Into the Dim) and "GoT for teens" (pretty much every epic fantasy published lately).

    Does a particular category or genre need to set big cultural trends to survive? I wonder about this. It's true that horror set trends in the '70s and '80s and then virtually disappeared from Big Publishing except for a few big-name authors (while remaining perpetually popular in film). But other book genres have weathered periods of being more and then less influential on the mainstream.
    Last edited by Fuchsia Groan; 12-02-2017 at 02:01 AM.
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  19. #19
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    As for adaptations...Chaos Walking by Patrick Ness is being made into a movie right now, so that'll probably spark more interest in the books.

    Throne of Glass (Sarah J Maas) is also being made into a TV show. Not sure what the current status of that is...But that series of books isn't even done yet, so I'm sure a TV show coming out will attract attention/new readers.

    I feel like the next trend (or even current trend?) in YA is Own Voices/Diversity, if that can even be called a trend.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Putputt View Post
    Didn’t Children of Blood and Bone get like a 7-figure movie deal? That’s pretty frikkin huge, especially when taking into account that it’s a debut. I may be biased, but it seems to me that the next big thing in YA is diverse, Own stories. I feel like those are the ones getting a big advances and the most hype and I hope this means we get to see more of them hit the big screen soon.
    Agreed. Though I really, really hope diversity isn't treated like a trend that fades away after a while.

    THE HATE U GIVE is doing incredibly well, has made a ton of money, and has a huge presence. The movie is currently being made. And the upcoming movie for SIMON VS. THE HOMO SAPIENS AGENDA seems to be getting a lot of buzz.

    I will be very surprised if CHILDREN OF BLOOD AND BONE doesn't do super well. I think non-Western, non-white fantasy is going to be the next big trend.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tromboli View Post
    Children of Blood And Bone is definitely poised to be the next huge thing, at least by publisher expectations. But what publishers expect is not always what happens. Like they spent TONS of money on The 5th Wave when it came out, expecting it to be the next Twilight/Hunger Games (including a big movie deal). And it did well (I loved that book tbh) but with 750k in just marketing budget... it never reached the heights they expected. The movie stalled, not signed on for any sequels, the sequels to the books kind of dwindled. It was never the big franchise they were hoping for.

    That's because the audiences choose what it falls for, not the publishers/marketers. Even they can't anticipate those trends, or force them.
    Eh, yes and no. There were a couple of glaring factors that I thought contributed to The 5th Wave tanking.

    1. I generally keep abreast of the best-sellers in YA and MG, and The 5th Wave had nowhere near the same amount of fans as THG or Divergent or even The Maze Runner. When it came out, a lot of my friends had never even heard of the book, but by the time the THG and Divergent movies came out, basically errrrbody had read the books. So the pool was a lot smaller to begin with, which means for the movie to be successful, it can’t just rely on the success of the book. It had to be good, which leads me to #2...

    2. The movie sucked. Holy balls, did it ever suck. I was looking forward to it because I like Chloe Grace Moretz, but damn. Formulaic, predictable story. Tepid acting. And the special effects, jaysus. So I’m not surprised that it stalled. My friend said, “I was looking forward to a scifi movie, but it yurned out to be a YA Romance, and a shitty one at that.”

    So yeah, I agree with you that audiences choose the trends, but I think it also depends on quality. Publishers/Hollywood/marketers can’t churn out mediocre content (I’m not saying The 5th Wave book was mediocre...but the movie...yeah) and expect it to be the next big thing.

    Quote Originally Posted by Niiicola View Post
    Agreed. Though I really, really hope diversity isn't treated like a trend that fades away after a while.

    THE HATE U GIVE is doing incredibly well, has made a ton of money, and has a huge presence. The movie is currently being made. And the upcoming movie for SIMON VS. THE HOMO SAPIENS AGENDA seems to be getting a lot of buzz.

    I will be very surprised if CHILDREN OF BLOOD AND BONE doesn't do super well. I think non-Western, non-white fantasy is going to be the next big trend.
    Agreed! I want more stuff like Pixar’s Coco...(I know it’s MG, but I only just recently watched it so it’s very much on my mind) More non-Western, diverse fantasy. I would read the hell out of a fantasy based on an African country, or India, or a Middle-Eastern country, or Mongolia, or or or Latin America...I would also read the hell out of a Western fantasy with diverse characters. And yeah, I hope it won’t be a trend so much as a permanent addition.
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    Own voice/diverse stories are at the top of most, if not all of the YA editor's wishlists, so it's trending in terms of publishers want to acquire own voice and diverse stories, but it's not a trend in the same way as paranormal romance and dystopian and some of the others were. It can't be, because stories about diversity can't really be categorized in the same way. You can have a dystopian and a paranormal romance and a sci fi and fantasy and so on and they can all have diverse characters written by own voice authors. So, in that sense, own voice YA is here to stay for the long haul, and what will happen is that editors will (if they haven't already) start to look for new ways to incorporate diversity without diversity being the main selling point of the novel. For example, instead of a story about a teenage boy coming out to his friends and family, they will look for a story about a teenage boy who is gay but whose sexuality is not necessarily a key element to the plot of the story. So, less books like Simon Vs. The Homosapiens Agenda and More Happy Than not, and more books like Romana Blue and I'll Give you the Sun. All amazing books, and 3/4 are some of my personal favorites. But they all incorporate sexuality in different ways, some more head-on than others. Or, perhaps, a better example is Marie Lu's newest endeavor, Warcross. The MC is Asian, female and has rainbow hair. But no one is pitching/selling the story as a diverse book. It's about so much more than the MC's nationality, gender etc. It's a plot-driven book with a gripping concept.

    Personally, I think the next big wave/trend is going to involve historical events being retold from diverse perspectives, and re-inventing old stories which have reached public domain. Showing classic stories in a new light so that they are more relatable today. Let's recast characters and have fun with it. Show me a bisexual teenage Peter Pan. A black Alice and Wonderland story. A hispanic Dorothy in Wizard of Oz. A transgender Snow White. We're already starting to see some of this done in both film and literature and it's great. I think YA is as strong as ever. I base that on the fact that so many agents have included YA in what they are open to representing, and that so many publishers now have YA imprints.
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    practical experience, FTW ManInBlack's Avatar
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    I agree with a lot of the feedback here. Harry Potter, coupled with a number of un- or partially-related other series, created a pretty big bubble that was popular for a long time. The audience will always be there, but the "fad" portion - the part of it that had the media obsessed with it and every studio exec looking for a YA series - has died down. That will also cut down on huge bestsellers, but there will still be some. Come to think of it, two of my favorite current adult series are "adult Harry Potter" and "adult Hunger Games," so there may be a trend there worth looking at if it's across the board.

  24. #24
    practical experience, FTW MaryLennox's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ManInBlack View Post
    I agree with a lot of the feedback here. Harry Potter, coupled with a number of un- or partially-related other series, created a pretty big bubble that was popular for a long time. The audience will always be there, but the "fad" portion - the part of it that had the media obsessed with it and every studio exec looking for a YA series - has died down. That will also cut down on huge bestsellers, but there will still be some. Come to think of it, two of my favorite current adult series are "adult Harry Potter" and "adult Hunger Games," so there may be a trend there worth looking at if it's across the board.
    I'm curious to know what the "adult Harry Potter" and "adult Hunger Games" series are.

  25. #25
    Rewriting My Destiny Cyia's Avatar
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    They're not current releases, but :The Magicians and The Running Man come awfully close.

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