Is Reading in Trouble?

A new report from the National Endowment for the Arts found that reading for pleasure fell slightly between 2012 and 2017. According to the report, the percentage of adults 18 and older who read any book that wasn’t for work or school in 2017 was 52.7%, compared to 54.6% in 2012.

The study, called the Survey of Public Participation in the Arts, is based on responses from 27,969 adults. Results were based on what, if any, books adults read in the 12 months prior to taking part in the survey, which was conducted in July 2017.

Another study, Trends in U.S. Adolescent Media Use, 1976 to 2016, revealed that less than 20% of U.S. teens report reading a book, magazine, or newspaper daily for pleasure in recent years. Yet, more than 80% say they use social media every day.

This study, which had a representative sample of 50,000 teenagers, found that, compared with previous generations, teens spend more time online and less time with traditional media such as books, magazines and television.

The findings of these studies disturb me. As an author, a reader, a literature lover, a writer’s conference speaker, and a book marketing expert, I believe in the power of the written word. I am not alone.

Jean M. Twenge, lead author of the adolescent study said, ““Being able to read long-form text is crucial for understanding complex issues and developing critical thinking skills.”

The marketing challenge for authors and publishers is no longer just getting exposure for your books. The challenge is becoming finding readers—people who actually read books. It’s becoming necessary to persuade busy, distracted people to invest time in reading a book.

I believe that authors and publishers must to do more than just write, publish, and market books. If we want to have a reading populace to sell books to long-term, we must also engage in activities that help cultivate reading among young people. After all, these young people are our next generation of book buyers.

Some activities that all authors and publishers can engage in to promote reading with young people include:

  • Sponsor a reading program for kids with incentives and prizes in your church, community, or local Christian school.
  • Lead a book group for teens through your local bookstore, church, or neighborhood.
  • Share your love of reading with the young people in your life by giving books as gifts.

There are plenty more activities we can do to promote reading. I would love to hear your ideas.

Related Posts:
Six Benefits of Reading
Why Reading the Bible Matters
Reading on Decline in America

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Reading Rates Remain Consistent

Every author needs readers. Without readers, there would be no one to buy books. Every year, the Pew Research Center studies reading rates. Recently, Pew released its newest findings. Here is what they found.

In spite of competition from a vast menu of entertainment choices, the average book readership of Americans is holding steady. In their report “Book Readership 2016”, the Pew Research Center records that 73% of Americans have read a book in the last year. This number remains largely unchanged from 2012 levels (although it is down from 2011 at 79% when Pew began tracking reading habits).

pew-reading-rates

A few of the interesting findings from the survey are:

  • 40% of Americans read print books exclusively.
  • Only 6% read ebooks exclusively.
  • Americans read an average of 12 books per year. However, the typical American has read four books in the last 12 months.
  • College graduates are nearly four times as likely to read ebooks, and twice as likely to read print books and listen to audiobooks, compared with those who have not graduated high school.
  • Women (77%) are more likely than men (68%) to read books in general, and are also more likely to read print books (70%).Men and women are equally likely to read ebooks and audiobooks.

One additional piece that this study looked at was why people read. Interestingly, the percentage of people reading for fiction and nonfiction reasons were about the same:

  • 84% read to research specific topics.
  • 80% read for pleasure.

The Pew survey was conducted from March 7 through April 4, and used a national sample of 1,520 adults, 18 years of age or older, living in all 50 states in the United States.

The fact that reading rates are not declining in the United States is good news for authors and publishers. Better news would be that reading rates are on the upswing.

Related Posts:
Christianity and Book Sales in America
Develop a Global Strategy
Millennials: A Substantial Market

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