September 10, 2010

Americans Are Reading Less

As a follow-up to an 2004 NEA survey, a study, titled “To Read or Not to Read” was released in November 2007. The previous survey found that the number of adult Americans who read at least one book a year was decreasing. According to the study, more than 72% of high school graduates are deemed literary deficient. Additional survey findings include:

• In 2002, only 52 percent of Americans ages 18 to 24, the college years, read a book voluntarily, down from 59 percent in 1992.

• Money spent on books, adjusted for inflation, dropped 14 percent from 1985 to 2005 and has fallen dramatically since the mid-1990s.

• The number of adults with bachelor’s degrees and “proficient in reading prose” dropped from 40 percent in 1992 to 31 percent in 2003. (Original Article)

I found the above article while searching for blogs about becoming a writer. The topic was unnerving to me on several levels and for different reasons. I am a budding writer and when I say budding I really do mean budding. I have an idea for a book but have yet to write a single page. The character creation process and the supporting plot research have taken up most of my time so far. With that being said, how am I supposed to feel about a market and possibly a new career when we as a society are reading less?

The jargon of the digital age perfectly describes how we now read. My future market is clicking, tweeting, e-mailing, twittering, skimming, browsing, scanning, blogging, and texting; thus reflecting the way that the very act of reading, and the nature of literacy itself, is changing. I started this blog to reach my future audience, build a following, gain insight and perhaps a few ideas in the process. I am now starting to think that after following my fellow peers advice about getting into writing professionally, I may have missed the boat.

Email is what afflicted the bloated postal systems around the world with anorexia. Blogs may well be the 21st century pandemic for the narrative. We only have to look at the fate of newspapers to see the effects of the digital age on traditional editorials.

Caesar was once was faced with the decision to cross the Rubicon, that now legendary river. He knew full well that crossing it was an act of war and hence nothing would ever be the same. While I may not be Caesar or about to plunge an empire into war, I am nonetheless facing my own Rubicon. As Caesar, so shall I, defy fate and march forward.

See you on the other side.

‘Nuff Said


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