read read read

M.J. Rose may well be the most connected writerly person ever. Or at least just now, in cyberspace. She’s an author but she also writes about publishing and the challenges facing authors.

She’s got a post up that serves as a call to arms. The message: the publishing business will continue to decline unless people start not just to read more, but also to invest in buying books.

Using stats published by R.R. Bowker. Lulu.com worked out that if we keep publishing at the rate we are publishing now, in 2052 148.4 million books will be published — but only 129.4 million Americans will actually read a book.

Do the math. This means 19 million new books will not find a reader.

Even if this is an exaggeration, those of us in the industry know that the challenge we all face is how to keep people reading and how to get more people reading. With the internet, cell phones, iPods and other listening devices, laptops, cable television, netflix etc there is no lack of competition for the book.

She’s got some suggestions for ways to encourage reading. For example, if you’re off to dinner at a friend’s house, bring a book instead of a bottle of wine. I’m thinking there are lots of occasions where books could be substituted for traditional gifts, but not everybody may appreciate the gesture. A book for mother’s day would suit me fine, but many might not feel that way.

So the problem is more than just getting books into people’s hands. It’s getting people interested in reading the books once they’ve got them. Getting them into the reading habit. And that’s harder to do.

M.J. is launching a recurring feature. She’s asked popular authors for a list of books to read this summer. The first one up is Lee Child (whose books I often write about here). I’m curious to see who else she’s got lined up.

11 Replies to “read read read”

  1. Books are my favorite gift. At christmas and birthday time when I am asked what its always books. My mother, tired of searching for titles now gives my a gift card to B&N. I love books, I crave them!

  2. Then there are those of us who invest in way more books than we can afford.

    My current goal is to turn my now 2 year old son into as avid a reader as I am. Since he’s now sitting on the floor turning the pages of Richard Scarry’s “Cars and Trucks and Things That Go” while watching “Bob the Builder” at the same time, I figure I’m doing okay. The next trick will be to keep him reading when I turn the TV off.

  3. I hadn’t really thought about this, reading is such a major part of my life that I didn’t notice how much competition was around. I work at a museum, where a major portion of our time is spent competing with the same things -movies, DVD’s cable, etc. I’m beginning to think a bookclub might be a nice service our museum can offer. Every bit helps.
    -Soup

  4. My two year old dose the same thing Kerry. He LOVES books. I read to him alot, even things Im reading and he loves it. He will bring my books and sit next to me while I read. I love to talk teaching toddlers to love reading! There’s an idea for a post Rosina!

    As for you Kerry, teachers supply stores have sales on childrens books all the time. You might want to find one near you and stop by every now and then to check it out. They have great tools for young child development. My son, (almost 2 and a half) can count to twenty and say his ABC’s and his colors.

  5. Rackin my brains trying to think of ways to get people more interested in reading,to the point where it was almost painful,hehe. Then it occured to me that it was’nt so long ago that I had’nt bin all that interested either,had’nt bin for a long time. Now here I was thinking of ways to get more people involved, more specificly my 6 and 7 year old.Probably see where I’m going with this. Book clubs are well and good, but to be honest can’t say I’v ever come across one in my nieghborhood and are there ones for children? My daughter will go on and on and on about a book. Gonna see if maybe the authors of these books shes reading have websites simuler to this one. I’d like her to know that other people enjoy reading as she does.Enthusiasm is key I think,and there’s seems to be plenty to go around in sites like this one.
    Bruce

  6. I agree with Bruce. Enthusiasm is the key. I would love to be a memeber of a book club but I travel all the time (12 months out of the year}I wish I could find an online book club. I am thinking of starting one… It is a thought.
    Kristina Lynn

  7. Well, I’ve just been into the forum and I had no problem, so maybe it’s fixed?? I was the only member, but there were several guests, so it’s not just me that can get in. Hope it’s OK your end!

  8. Hope you find the light switch soon! Maybe you’ll get it fixed for your birthday coming up….btw any big plans?

  9. I did find the light switch, so things are back to normal as far as the forum is concerned.

    Birthday? What’s a birthday?

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