Towards a definition of "YA"

minnow at minnow at
Sat Mar 6 13:41:20 EST 2004

Sallyo wrote in reply to me:

>> Thank you.  That is now clear, to me if not to the Great Bookbuying
>  FOR not ABOUT was universal
>> as an assumption.
>> Sorry.
>It doesn't matter though, does it? It's like music - many (most?) assume
>recent pop is "for teenagers" but who cares if a 40-something listens to it?

That wasn't the way round that was worrying me.  What worries me is
precisely the prescriptive and proscriptive nature of labelling books as
being "for" an age-group.  It may not be what is intended by "us here"
(deborah's and Melissa's point) but then, "us here" don't have any control
whatever over the labelling.

So it does matter, every time someone of fourteen is being in effect told
what he or she should or should not read on the basis of a label
arbitrarily put onto a book by the publisher.

Many, many publishers are good people, individuals of whom I am fond,
right-minded; many of them deplore the idea that books should or can be
regarded as "product"; many of them wish they could control the marketing
department of their company.  They can't, in general.  Marketing decides
what label goes on a book.  I'm not convinced the marketing people read the
books they slap the labels onto: in some cases I am sure they haven't.

I don't like the labels for that reason.  That's all.

My confusion about what is meant in this forum by the term "young adult" as
applied to a book is now cleared up: it means what Melissa has decided it
means, and that's fine by me.  I only wish it were more help in dealing
with the world outside this list, which unfortunately doesn't know Melissa.


To unsubscribe, email dwj-request at with the body "unsubscribe".
Visit the archives at

More information about the Dwj mailing list