Well, here's an idea:
Shelve Young Adult and Adult Books Together
What do you think? Good idea? Bad idea?
1. The difference between many YA and Adult novels are in name only. There are plenty of novels featuring teens or even children as the main characters that get shelved in Adult fiction, for whatever reason. No one thinks you're weird if you read those as an adult. But put the same book in the YA section of the bookstore and there's something wrong with reading it. I've seen seen plenty of books that I'd consider YA in the adult section. Katie McGarry's books are in the Adult Romance part of my Barnes & Noble. The Brian Jacques children's fantasy series was shelved in Adult Fantasy at my old Barnes & Noble, something I never understood.
2. Exposure. Arguably, books like Twilight, Harry Potter, and Hunger Games have exposed adults to Young Adult literature. That's true obviously, but I think The Fault in Our Stars has exposed adults to YA in a more significant way. It's demonstrated that YA can be of literary quality, something few adults realize. It's shelved in Young Adult at Barnes & Noble, but at many other stores, like Target and even the grocery store, it's alongside adult books. If more Young Adult books were shelved next to "acceptable" adult books, perhaps more people would read them.
1. Ease of Use. I'll admit that I like categorizing books. My hometown library separates adult fiction into five sections: Fiction, Romance, Western, Mystery, and Sci Fi/Fantasy. My current library shelves all adult fiction together. I liked having it separate. Admittedly, I liked that so I could easily steer clear of genres that I didn't enjoy when I was younger, but it did make things easier to find. Plus, you had an idea what you were getting when you grabbed a random book off a shelf. I read YA because I enjoy reading books about teenagers. I don't want to sort through dozens of books about a 40 year old's dysfunctional family to find the kind of books I like.
2. Price. One of the nice things about YA is that it is usually a little cheaper than Adult fiction. In the $18 range instead of the $27 range. This is perhaps demeaning to YA authors and even to YA publishers who deserve to get the same amount of profit as Adult authors/publishers, but it sure is nice for us consumers.
On the whole, I think I want Young Adult books to remain separate from Adult books (and children's books for that matter). Mostly because I'm lazy and want to be able to find my favorite genre easily. But the idea of merging Young Adult and Adult fiction is worth contemplating. It would signify that two genres are really just one. There's not Young Adult vs. Adult Fiction. There's only Fiction. People who choose to read books about teenagers, regardless of their age are no less intelligent, ambitious, or literary than people who choose to read books about grown-ups.