March 12, 2004 at 05:00 AM EST

Perhaps it is a ripple of the splash Harry Potter made. Or a reflection that Alice Sebold’s ”The Lovely Bones” (excerpted in ”Seventeen”) and Mark Haddon’s ”The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time” (simultaneously released in adult and kids’ editions in the U.K.) proved a book could appeal to the lucrative young-adult market and maintain Quality Lit cred. In any case, the book biz may be on the verge of a youth movement.

In April, Harcourt is issuing a new edition of Yann Martel’s ”Life of Pi” — the prizewinning tale of a 16-year-old and a tiger — aimed at the YA sections of bookstores. Same text, six bucks cheaper, with new cover art. ”We call it Baby ‘Pi,”’ says a publicist. More ambitious, Eric Schlosser has begun wholly rewriting his 2001 muckraking best-seller ”Fast Food Nation” for preteens — ”the same kids,” he says, ”that McDonald’s and Co. are targeting.” Houghton Mifflin plans to serve it up in 2005.

Where does that leave mature readers? May we suggest ”Gossip Girl,” the first book in Cecily von Ziegesar’s racy series, blurbed as ”Sex and the City for the younger set”? Warner Books just repackaged it for grown-ups.

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