YA and Positioning in Bookshops

April 27, 2013 Bookish chat 27

I don’t think it’s any surprise to anyone that I love lots of different book genres.  I jump like a grasshopper on speed from genre to genre.  It all just depends on my current book mood as to what I’ll choose next.  If you were to hold me up at gunpoint though and demand to know my favourite genre, I would without hesitation pick YA.  I would then have to stop and wonder why you are holding me up at gunpoint; I thought we were bloggie friends!
And I’m sure most of you are united with me in my love of bookshops.  All those books, all the possibilities, the thrill of maybe finding a new favourite.   I love it.  I do tend to do a lot of my book shopping on Amazon as I buy mostly Ebooks these days but shopping in a brick-and-mortar book shop is an unparalleled experience.  Amazon shopping gets the job done quickly and effectively but bookshop shopping feeds all my book senses.
However,  when you match my YA book love and book shopping love then we have a problem.  The YA books are in the children’s section of the bookshop and this makes me feel a bit ridiculous.  Come on, lots of adults read YA.  I’m not alone so why make me feel like an adult with immature reading taste.   Or even worse if I’m asking someone to pick up a book a book for me and I have to explain it will be in the kiddie section.  Thank you, that made me feel well-read and clever, not! 
In my local bookshop, there is a really cute little table and chairs for little folk.  And even a Prince and Princess style throne to sit in while you decide which magical book to take home.  I love that, it’s appropriate for a children’s section.  But when you have the YA books in here too, no wonder I feel uncomfortable.   Frankly, I would be less embarrassed in the Erotica section!


Even when I was a child, I didn’t want to shop in the children’s section; I wanted the big, thick, interesting looking books.  I wanted books to make me feel older.  And no, I don’t read YA books to make me feel  younger.  I read them because so many are well written, fresh, imaginative, not so full of self importance and something about them just appeals to me.   Maybe it’s because YA straddles different genres.  Take Cinder – Sci Fi, Dystopian, Romance, Fairytale all wrapped up in one book.   For a genre drifter like me, that’s impressive.
I came across a survey (on www.publishersweekly.com) that shows that 55% of YA books are bought by adults.  The largest segment within that group is the 30 to 44 age group. And the study also shows they are not buying for someone else, they are buying for themselves.   I think that proves my point nicely.  And the teenagers who are buying and reading YA, I really doubt they want to be in the Children’s section either. Irish books sellers; Are you listening?
Bookish Chat : Maybe this is less of a problem in other countries?  Are you forced to sneak in and out of children’s sections like I am?  And does it bother you

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27 Responses to “YA and Positioning in Bookshops”

  1. anaherareads

    I know I’ve seen YA books stuck under the “Children’s” section at a bookstore before. 🙁 I find it a bit confusing (and sad) because even though this books usually have a main female who is a teenager or a little older, some of the subject matter they deal with isn’t completely children-appropriate. I mean, the supernatural ones can have some real violent scenes that I wouldn’t give to my little cousin.

    It’s the same problem I have with bookstores that chuck Fantasy novels into the Children’s section. 🙁

    • Trish Hannon

      Yes I do see the Fantasy books in there too. And I agree the books are not child friendly in general so that’s another reason for separating them properly.

  2. AwesomeAmy

    You see… I don’t see many bookstores around that do that. WHSmith does but I give up going in there- they seem to want to become the new Woolworths. I love Woolworths but the fact the one near us has stationery, food, random things, magazines, (auto)biographies & then at the back there’s an archway and it leads into the “Children’s” Fiction section seems strange to me… Near us it seems like WHSmith is the joke store- I’d stick just to Amazon/Red House Books etc. (online) if that was the only store, there’s a whole chunk of genres missing & YA/children’s all jumbled together.
    Thankfully Waterstones doesn’t do this, although Children’s & Young Adult are near each other they are separate.
    As much as I love my library they actually class all the YA books as a sub-section of the library & it’s called ‘____ Teenage’. Children’s, Adult & whatever doesn’t have this. It just goes by our town’s name! It’s because our library likes to think the biggest leap is from children’s to Teens & then to adults. Some do miss this “bridge” so surely that’s a bigger leap? But no, they are orientated at that TEEN section. It’s OK for me, I’m a teen. A massive section with bean bags, a wii & the DVDs/computers next door suits me fine! But this means there’s a LOT of teens there. If school’s not on at that time there’s teens there. It’s better than the school library so people that can get a pass do.
    So when can adults get a book without feeling like they’re invading the teen’s section? When there’s teens like me that like discussing YA with Adults too I suppose 😉 Or early mornings! XD
    Oops… This turned epic-size!

    • Trish Hannon

      Your library sounds fun and comfy. I can understand having a teenage section but my thing still is lots of adults read YA and won’t want to frequent the teenage section. Might sneak in when you are in school though, sounds cool in there! I love Waterstones selection of books but I have problems with their layout too!

  3. Asti

    My local B&N actually just fixed this issue in the last year. The YA books weren’t actually IN the children’s section, but right at the entrance of the section. You weren’t really in the children’s section then, but close enough that people can tell you weren’t reading adult books. (Of course, I did find it funny that the next aisle over were sex-related books. You’d face one direction and see teen books and turn around and there’s a sex book. Not sure that was a bright idea…)

    They moved everything around in the store though, so the YA section is on the opposite end of the store. (I can’t remember what other sections are around it now.) I do think it makes a difference though because it sort of makes it seem more respected in a way.

    • Trish Hannon

      Yay for B&N, I think its something more shops should do. Even I was surprised with the stats for who read YA but if they want people to buy instore and not online, this is one fairly fix.

  4. whatdanielledidnext

    I know I always feel weird when I go to the teen section in Easons but luckily I’m short and usually wearing a Care Bears hoodie so if you don’t look too closely I blend in 😉

  5. bookblogbake

    My hometown has NO bookshops(yay town of 5,000 people), but the town I’m currently living in, my college book town, has quite a few. There’s two used bookshops, and both have this problem. One has the YA books IN the children’s section. The other does attempt to distinguish the two but often the books end up mixed up so I have to look at the children’s section anyway.
    The Barnes and Nobles, however, does not have this problem(yay!). The YA is between the classics and the fantasy. In Hastings(which is my go-to since they often have used books that are much cheaper), the YA is at the front of the book section, and then the YA slowly shifts into adult novels, which makes a lot of sense to me. Especially since YA books are so popular now, they’re on display without making adults have to sheepishly go into the children’s section. The last chain bookstore in my current town is Books-a-Million. It doesn’t shelve the YA by the children, but it is sort of in an awkward place, and I can’t figure out why I think the sectioning is so awkward!

    • Trish Hannon

      That’s 2 votes for B&N so, looks like they have their act together and are listening to what consumers want. Very interesting to see how all the different stores measure up, thanks for sharing! And Books-a-Million is a great name!

  6. Ruth @ Bookish Ruth

    My local bookstore has the young adult section set off by itself in the front of the store. Which is nice. But I don’t really mind going into the children’s section in other stores. I have had parents ask me where my child was, though, which was a little awkward when I admitted I was shopping for myself!

  7. kimbacaffeinate

    Oh no..eew, my B&N mortar store has the YA in its own section, right outside the childrens. The children’s section is gated off and has trees, places to lay and read, a tree house etc. So I never feel weird, or have kids running under foot.

  8. SweetMarie83

    My local independent store (which sadly closed down at the beginning of the year) had their YA books with their kiddie books. The one big chain store here has the entire back wall full of YA books and they happen to be right next to the children’s books, but they’re not right WITH them. The bargain YA books, however, are in the children’s section for some reason. I haven’t been in the bookstore in the mall for a few years but next time I’m at the mall I’m going to pop in out of curiosity. I’d be really self-conscious if I had to go into the children’s section to browse for YA books…I already feel like I’m being stared at sometimes when looking at YA books, which is probably why I just buy most of them online! lol

    ~Marie @ Ramblings of a Daydreamer

    • Trish Hannon

      Thanks for stopping by Marie and for following 🙂 I think the more progressive stores who are listening to what customers are saying are dividing them out. I can live with beside each other but I would still prefer if they were in totally different sections. Just not IN together!

  9. Laura Ashlee

    It depends on where you go. For instance, Books-a-Million has a separate Teen section that is not even close to the children’s section. In the store I go to, it’s not even on the same floor. The Barnes & Noble I go to has it’s own Teen section too, and it’s beside the children’s area, but not in it. Now, the indie bookstores here? Yes, the Teen and Middle Grade books are mixed together in the children’s area. I’m not so crazy about shopping for them there. Mostly, it doesn’t bug me because I read picture books too.

  10. Michelle @ In Libris Veritas

    I always hated that the YA section in my old Borders was right next to the Children’s section, and it’s the same in many used stores as well. But most B&N’s that I go to have their sections kind of distant from each other now. It’s always strange to try and find a YA book when you have little kids looking at you weird, lol.

  11. Kelly W

    Ugh, yes! I’m lucky enough to have a few bookstores near me, and while one of them shamelessly has their YA display at the front of the store and a staff quick to gush over their favorite YA titles, most of them aren’t as cool. They don’t actually have YA in the children’s section, but so close to it that it almost feels like the rest of the book sections are the adults and they’re patting the older young kids on the head and letting them sit at the end of the “adult table” so they can brag about getting to sit with the grown-ups. It’s time these book stores caught up and realized what genre is running the book world right now.

    Great post!

    • Trish Hannon

      Yes, YA is totally running the book world and for very good reasons. Some are listening by the looks of it, others need to start listening or we’ll be walking on by to a shop that respects our choices.

  12. Chelsea

    Great post! I am like you and I am a genre hopper too but I really love YA. I do mostly eBook shopping too but I was in Barnes & Noble the other day and I found it awkward that I have to go to the teenager section to find YA books and I felt weird looking through them as a 27 year old. I LOL on your erotica comment because I totally agree 🙂

    • Trish Hannon

      Thanks Chelsea, its unanimous, we want the YA books in their own section so we can shop in comfort, guilt free 🙂 Book shopping should be a pleasure not awkward!

  13. Pabkins

    Yes EXACTLY! Why the heck are they in the children’s section? Of course I did go to one book store where it definitely wasn’t inside that little children’s section area it was inbetween the adult and childrens section…so maybe not all book stores have it wrong. Course I think that was Borders…which is now closed. I might be remembering incorrectly too – who knows. *I stay out of the erotica area – buy those books online! hahah

  14. Passionate Bookworm

    When I worked in Borders they were not IN the childrens section. But I suppose you could consider it near.. The childrens was back in the corner. then it worked its way up through middle grade, then was separated by classics/award winners before it got to YA. It didn’t really bother me. But I’m pretty upfront and all ” YES I READ YA! What you gonna do about it?! haha. Then again.. I also worked at the CSR desk right next to YA. So … It was perfect placement for me haha.

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