21 August 2007

Black and Read

Don your black mourning. Our country's literacy is in the red. I saw this article today in the Dallas Morning News that covers a poll done which shows that 1 in 4 adults read no books last year. 27% of our population read no books last year. I'm still trying to let it sink, hopefully before the entire book industry does.
Some of the findings were standard: more women read than men, and of those women the majority were over 50 (although it didn't say by how much of a majority); of the books men did read, there were more nonfiction than fiction; the majority of readers (again, no numbers given) had at least a college degree.
Here's a surprising (tongue-in-cheek) quote: "'Fiction just doesn't interest me,' said Bob Ryan, 41, who works for a construction company in Guntersville, Ala. 'If I'm going to get a story, I'll get a movie.'"
But there were also new-to-me facts. For example, "those who said they never attend religious services read nearly twice as many as those who attend frequently." On the one hand, this makes sense with the time factor. On the other hand, shouldn't these people at least be reading their religious book? And Democrats read slightly more than Republicans. And here's one that blew me over (no offense to those I'm about to offend): those in the Midwest read more than any other region. Huh. But then again, what else is there to do on a cold night? (Okay, now I'm hated my the entire area. Love you guys. My hubby grew up there, and he's a good man. The best.)
After all this black news, there are two findings keeping the industry out of the red: those who read, read avidly. Like 70 books a year avidly. And the number of sales are up 3% this year. Of course, never know what that'll mean for next year.
So keep reading, folks! (And not just blogs.)


Willowtree said...

It's so much a literacy issue (although that is a problem). People read, they just don't read books.

The religious issue seems fairly straightforward to me, they read a lot, but only one book.

Pamela said...

polls are never very accurate.

Jennifer Tiszai said...

I wonder if how much of the decline can be attributed to people not learning to really read. There's a certain amount of proficiency you have to attain to enjoy reading. The people that I've talked to who don't like to read don't know how to read well.

Michelle Pendergrass said...

I always thought that more people didn't read. Seriously, before I met my writer friends, I only knew three people who read.

Real Live Preacher said...

Yeah, things are shaking up. There is a competition for information, and we humans only have so much room for input. I don't know what to think about it.

What amazes me is HOW MANY BOOKS are out there. Way too many. Been to Barnes and Noble lately? The tables are filled with all of these insane title, mostly non-fiction how-tos or tell alls. And most being unloaded for $5.99 hardback.

I wish it meant something to have published a book. I did once, but so has every Tom Dick and Harriet.

For me - I live for fiction. I try to read only fiction, unless it is a good biography. I can pick up the "how-to" stuff in conversations.

Heather said...

Been to B&N lately? Is the pope Catholic? Does a bear pee in the woods? I wanted to work there, but my hubby didn't think that was a good idea. :)
I try to work some nonfiction, mostly theology or philosophy or creative nonfict, between a few fiction, but the fictions keep calling me. Reminds me of my sister when she was little (when we both were). Every morning, "He-er, He-er, pay Reryl" (Translation: Heather, Heather, play with Cheryl). By the third time: "He-er! Pay Reryl NOW!"
Ah, those were the days. Now my books demand the attn.

The Gyrovague said...

I love to read, I can not imagine someone not reading, this is sobering. How else to people get exposed to ideas...T.V. I guess, that scares me even more.

Thanks for stopping by my Blog!

Robin said...

There is SO MUCH competing for our time--think about all the distractions present today that weren't in existence "then" (oops...I'm older than you, lol, some of the things I'm thinking about WERE in existence when you were in grade school).

I'm overwhelmed when I walk into B&N or BAM (or any other wonderful bookstore). How does any writer find success in the industry...a following...when there are SO MANY out there?

RLP, I gotta disagree with you, though...it DOES mean something to be published...I don't even think you mean that (otherwise, why would you continue to HAVE books published?). That kind of comment is discouraging to a writer for whom being published IS a goal...LOOK AT HEATHER! Sure, there's a bunch of crap out there, probably more junk than worthy reads...but it still means something.

I remember thinking during the height of all the hype from Christians about the Harry Potter series, "At least kids are reading..." Rowling is perhaps responsible for cultivating a love for reading by younger people more so than anyone else over the past several years. Kudos to her.

Karmyn R said...

Do magazines and newspapers count in this poll?

I read as much as I can - but don't always get a chance due to demands of children and such. Whenever I sit down to read I've suddenly got two kids demanding my attention.

Heather said...

thx for the sweet encouragement, robin! and, yeah, i wonder about the lost-in-the-shuffle dept. if i do get published one day, how do i avoid that?
no, the poll doesn't count mags or newspapers or internet.

L.L. Barkat said...

But how many people is 27% of the population? In other words, the percentage that reads could still represent a very large number of people. That's what I'm finding comfort in.

Jennifer, Snapshot said...

I don't know if all I had read during the year was the Bible if I would say "yes I had read a book" because I probably wouldn't have read all of it.

I went through a bit of a dry spell with reading, but I think that even then I read a handful of books a year. Since I've been back, I've been back strong. In fact, I think that because all of the review reading I've been doing for my book column at 5minutesformom has increased my fluency (but probably not retention). I thought 70 sounded like an awful lot of books, but I think that I will surpass that in 2007.

Interesting. Thanks for sharing.

Jennifer, Snapshot said...

I have to repost to say LOL on the working at a bookstore. That would definitely be a losing proposition for me.