More than half the consumers of books classed as for Young Adults are over 18, according to research drawn from data on US readers by Bowker.
Fifty-five per cent of buyers of YA books, designated by publishers as works for young adults aged 12 to 17, are 18 or older, according to the Bowker Market Research survey, the biannual "Understanding the Children's Book Consumer in the Digital Age" report.
The largest segment were aged 30 to 44, accounting for 28 % of sales, with the adults responding that 78% of the time they are buying their books for their own reading. Thirty per cent of respondents reported they were reading The Hunger Games series, though the remaining 70% reported they were reading a variety of titles, listing more than 220 different books.
Bowker Market Research vice-president Kelly Gallagher said: "The investigation into who is reading YA books began when we noticed a disparity between the number of YA e-books being purchased and the relatively low number of kids who claim to read e-books. The extent and age breakout of adult consumers of these works was surprising. And while the trend is influenced to some extent by the popularity of The Hunger Games, our data shows it's a much larger phenomenon than readership of this single series."
Meanwhile, the research also indicated that YA fiction buyers are early-adopters, with more than 40% reading e-books. More than two-thirds of the respondents said that enjoying the author's previous books "has a moderate or major influence" over their next book choice, with 71% saying that if the e-book of their desired title was unavailable, they would buy the print book instead.