Where Have All the Readers Gone?

I grew up in a family of readers. While occasionally there would be a non-fiction book, we were all mostly novel readers. Dad even got in trouble because he took 12 books with him on their honeymoon (yeah, Dad, what were you thinking? I only took 6 novels).

As a child, I read several books a day, even won an award for most

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Please encourage your kids and adults to read!

books checked out at the library. As an adult, I scaled back to a couple hundred a year. My sisters always have a book they’re involved with, and grocery bags full of novels ferry between their houses. My wife was a non-reader at first but discovered books in self-defense. She gets into deep, historical books, the kind that scare me, but she’s fearless. My kids are readers. This makes me biased, I’m sure. In my world, everyone is a reader.

Then I got into my 50s, and I went from 100-200 books a year to… 50 or 60 a year (gasp!). I’m a writer and publisher but I don’t read anywhere near as much as I used to. I’m guessing part of it was that when the kids were actual children our TV choices were limited to kid-friendly shows, so I read rather than watched. Not so much these days.

90% of my closest friends are readers. Some prefer non-fiction, but I like them anyway (hey, I finally wrote a non-fiction book and it sells better than my novels). Yet statistics say that only 20% of Americans are readers (Amazon does a big business in books, but how many are actually read?).

As a book-seller, I am amazed at how few readers there are. I’m naïve, but I expected most of my friends and acquaintances to buy my books (they’re priced to sell). Not so much.

This isn’t a poor-poor-pitiful-me post. I’d love it to be a discussion in the comments below. Do you read? Why or why not? Do you read as much as you used to? Why has it slowed down?