YA is what Clayton Christensen would call a “disruptive innovation,” a product that addresses the needs of a neglected customer segment not being served by the dominant incumbents in power. That some of the fiction isn’t terribly innovative doesn’t matter. What was innovative was treating teens like the serious market demographic that they are: a tightly-connected, actively social group in possession of disposable income who want books about the characters that nervous agents and major publishers won’t touch, like queer characters, non-white characters, and girls. This is what happens when a generation grows up reading fanfiction written by their friends about characters developed in other countries, like Japan and Korea, and not books with shitty T&A covers about women who get wet when their fathers give them vaginal exams. They start going to anime cons, or gaming cons, or media cons. They go to DragonCon and PAX and FanExpo and AnimeExpo and Comic Con. Not because those cons are “less literary,” but because those cons are gatherings of communities who share enthusiasm about the characters and worlds they actually give a shit about.