Executive Director, Industry Analyst
2022 was a record year for the young adult print market, and so far, 2023 is on track to stay as strong or even grow a bit. Year-to-date print sales are up 1% over 2022 and 56% over 2019, according to Circana BookScan (formerly NPD BookScan). There are a number of factors behind this strong market performance, but what I find most interesting is how the market has been able to grow without the typical historical drivers we would have seen in the past.
Prior to the pandemic, growth in the young adult market was typically driven by major movie tie-ins or series bestsellers from tentpole properties that everyone would have heard of, like “Twilight,” for instance. 2021 marked the start of a new trend for the young adult market: growth driven by overall higher volume across a diverse set of titles, supported almost entirely by people posting on TikTok and word-of-mouth discovery, and no major movie release in sight as theatres remained closed.
In 2022, the market caught up and many of those #BookTok favorites started being adapted for the screen, a trend that continues here in 2023. Official trailer releases and series announcements are driving sales for related titles, which is simultaneously maintaining the influence of the platform, and growing the consumer base in stores as retailers merchandise against the trend. Leading this growth are authors including Jenny Han (“The Summer I Turned Pretty,” Netflix), Suzanne Collins (“Hunger Games,” movie coming fall 2023), and Alice Oseman (“Heartstopper,” Netflix).
Given the momentum, I expect young adult book sales to not just maintain but to grow even further as this virtuous flywheel keeps spinning into 2024 and beyond.