By the Numbers, a look at YA being published in 2023 (so far)
Last year, I took a deep dive into YA pulishing and I thought I would take a look at 2023 to get an idea of how the two compare. Though to be fair, it’s not an apples to apples comparison because last year I did it in April, and this is only the end of January. So I think I will dive in now then take a look again in April and to see what it all looks like.
For comparison, here is last year’s post: https://teenlibrariantoolbox.com/2022/04/25/teen-fiction-2022-by-the-numbers-so-far/
To begin, I ran the same searches in vendors as I did last year and created a spreadsheet. I searched specifically for books ages 12-19 and aes 14-19 in hardback or trade paperback in English.
Here’s what I found:
If you include nonfiction, there are 1772 titles currently listed for sale in the vendor catalogs for YA/Teens. A breakdown of those titles looks like this:
- 842 are fiction and 930 are nonfiction
- 494 are listed as being a translation (this number seems really high to me)
- 10 are short story compilations/anthologies
- 700 are listed as graphic novels
Formats and Prices
When looking at the total number including nonfiction and fiction both, 746 are Hardcover and 1026 are Trade Paperback.
Looking solely at fiction, 542 are hardcovers and 190 are trade paperbacks. Some of the TP books are first run, others are simultaneous releases or reprints of previously released hardcover books.
I also looked at the pricing of the books, to see if teens can even afford to buy books at list price. Only 8 of the titles were listed as below $10.00. A mjaority of the titles, 648, were listed as eing between $10 and $20. Surprisingly, 76 of the titles were listed for over $20. To be fair rarely do any of us buying a book for our home libraries pay full retail price, many retailers offer discounts of some sort.
Ages and Stages
When you look at just the fiction titles, 961 are listed as being for ages 12-19. Meanwhile, 811 are listed as being for ages 12-19. While they are not included in this spreadsheet, I similarly found 683 titles listed as middle grade, for ages 8-12. This is relevant as the younger age of YA, ages 12-14, often read in botht he MG and YA category.
Of the 842 titles listed as fiction, currently 54 have stars. This is less than we saw last year because it’s earlier in the year. Many of this year’s releases haven’t been reviewed in the professional journals yet. Last year I looked at how many stars books had, but it’s far too early in the year for that type of comparison. But here are a few of the January and February release that have already received at least 1 star:
What’s That Genre/Subject Heading?
I wanted to take a deeper look to see what types of books were being published this year, so I sorted my spreadsheet by genre – more specifically, by the LC and BISAC subject headings – to see what is being published this year. Most books will have multiple subject headings as they touch on multiple genres and topics of life. For the purposes of this list, I am looking only at the first subject listed as it is typically the primary subject or genre.
- Action and Adventure – 14
- Coming of Age – 23
- Diversity and Multicultural – 16
- Dystopian – 14
- Fairy Tales – 13
- Fantasy – 145 (with subheadings like romance, dark fantasy, epic fantasy, etc)
- Historical – 14
- Horror – 24
- LGBTQIA+ – 23
- Mystery and Detective Stories – 19
- Novels in Verse – 8
- Paranormal – 18
- Romance – 114 (with subheadings like contemporary, romantic comedy, LGBTQIA+, et)
- Science Fiction – 28
- Social Themes – 54 (these often deal with things like emotions, social justice, death and dying, etc.)
- Superheroes – 6
- Thrillers – 62
- Vampires – 4
There are a lot of additional categories like family, Black comedy, sports and more that didn’t really have very many titles and I didn’t include them above. I did include vampires even though it only had 4 just because at one point and time, vampires was a dominant category for YA and it is interesting to see how it’s on the backburner for the moment.
Four of the titles are listed as dealing with religious life, Christianity. And only 1 title had a first subject heading listing as Jewish. Again, this doesn’t meant that none of the titles talk about the faith lives of teens, it just means that they are not the primary – or first – subject heading.
It’s also important to point out that many novels can really fit into more than one genre. For example, the fantasy category has a subheading of romance. And many of the thriller titles would fit just as easily into mystery & detective stories or horror. There is a lot of cross-over that can happen.
So What’s It All Cost
On average, a first run hardback YA book costs $18.99. We saw above that there is a lot of room for variations here. But if we tried to buy all 542 of the first run hardcover books at $18.99, it would cost $10,292.58. So an indivdiual or a library would need over $10,000 alone to purchase 1 copy of every first run YA hardcover book released in 2023, so far. This doesn’t include nonfiction, trade paperbacks, replacements, backlist titles that you have to replace, etc. It also doesn’t include multiple copies of high demand titles or independently published books. And it’s early in the year, so fall/winter titles will sometimes show up later in the vendor search.
If I expand the math out to all 1772 YA titles currently found in the vendor search being released in 2023 and adjusted my average price to around $15.00 to account for fluctuations in price, the total cost would be $26,580. For one copy of each title.
Here’s Why This All Matters
I have worked in public libraries for 30 years. I’ve worked in single branch libraries, medium sized systems and large systems. I’ve worked in rural libraries and urban ones. YA budgets are consistently one of the smallest line items in library budgets and I have never had a budget that would allow me to buy all of the titles released. Part of my job is to sift through all of those books being released and trying to find the most diverse collection of titles to meet the needs of every single person in the community. Part of the reason it is so important is because teens can not afford to buy these books on their own, but we need teens to read. We need them to read often, diversely, and in both fiction and nonfiction to become well educated, compassionate citizens of the world. We need them to read to process who they are, what they believe, and how they want to live in this world. Libraries give them access to books that they would never find on their own, would never be able to afford on their own, and it matters. In addition to the importance of just becoming proficient readers, reading has health benefits, mental health benefits, and educational benefits. Libraries matter, and teen collections in libraries matter.
As I write this in 2023, school and public libraries are under attack by groups who don’t want us to provide access to a wide variety of materials, including those that contain truthful depictions of history, racism, and LGBTQIA+ representation. I became a librarian because I believe that community resources help us to support education, build better communities, and just make the world a better place. I became a teen librarian because I believe that teens deserve value and respect and support on their life journeys. I became a librarian because I believe in the power of information and story to help us better ourselves and, in the process, bettering our world.
Rec it Rachel has a great databased of 2023 YA releases that you may find helpful. https://www.recitrachel.com/2023ya
Goodreads also has a list of new YA releases for 2023 and you can find it divided into release month as well, though this is not always accurate https://www.goodreads.com/list/show/117462.YA_Novels_of_2023
About Karen Jensen, MLS
Karen Jensen has been a Teen Services Librarian for almost 30 years. She created TLT in 2011 and is the co-editor of The Whole Library Handbook: Teen Services with Heather Booth (ALA Editions, 2014).
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