It comes as no surprise that Veronica Roth and John Green joined the world’s top-earning authors list this year: So far in 2014, nine of the ten top-selling books in Canada are from the juvenile category, and all but one of those are editions of either Green’s The Fault in Our Stars or titles in Roth’s Divergent series.
From the success of their novels and subsequent movie adaptations, we could predict that 2014 is the year Roth and Green take over the world. But they’re not isolated cases in the world of young adult fiction: 60% of this year’s thirty bestselling books so far are classified as juvenile titles, including Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief, Gayle Forman’s If I Stay, and the concluding book in Cassandra Clare’s The Mortal Instruments series, City of Heavenly Fire.
So, if the juvenile category as a whole is dominating the Canadian market, and the trend goes beyond the Divergent series and The Fault in Our Stars, what else could be a common denominator? Movie adaptations, you say?
The Hollywood Effect
The Book Thief was originally published in 2007 and If I Stay first hit shelves in early 2010, but only in the last twelve months have sales for both novels surged. A couple of quick Title/ISBN reports from BNC SalesData, coupled with a direct line to Hollywood (IMDB), leaves nothing left unknown:
We can’t release sales numbers for individual titles, but you can still see how both titles beat their own personal unit sales records tenfold after the release of film adaptations, allowing them to join the ranks of Canadian bestsellers.
Back(list) in Black
Authors and publishers have also seen a boost in backlist sales after movie versions of more recent titles. Take John Green’s earlier books Looking For Alaska and Paper Towns: they both rank in the aforementioned top 30 books in Canada this year, despite having been published in 2007 and 2009. Even Google Trends says people typed in the search terms “John Green,” “Looking For Alaska,” and “Paper Towns” more after the Fault in Our Stars feature film was born:
Another example is the other titles in Veronica Roth’s Divergent trilogy, Insurgent and Allegiant, which both sit in our top 5 and see a similar Google-search spike to the one above (not to mention spin-off title Four, and the Divergent boxed set at spots 10 and 11 on our list).
So, What’s the Story?
But I digress; suddenly we are back to Roth and Green as Pinky and the Brain (or more accurately, the Brain and the Brain). So the original question gets heavier: is the strength of the juvenile market in Canada dependent upon the success of these two authors, or the influence of the movie industry?
We would suggest it may be a mixture of both, along with a couple other factors. In our study The Canadian Book Consumer 2013: Book Purchases by Channel, we found that 51% of books bought as gifts were purchased for children or grandchildren. This may partly account for why the juvenile market in Canada has been so steady for the past three years and looks particularly good so far in 2014.
Another dynamic may be the increasing appeal of juvenile fiction among readers of all ages. First-love and coming-of-age stories never really do get old, and crossover titles are making it more and more acceptable for broader age ranges of audiences to read the same book.
Whatever the combination of influences on book buyers, the market for juvenile books in Canada has slightly increased year-over-year since 2011, and is already strong this year without having hit the holiday season yet. It is safe to assume that even if this is the only year for Roth and Green (not likely, considering Paper Towns just got optioned for a movie version in 2015), Canada’s love for young adult books is definitely going strong.