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?

One thought on “Where Have All the Readers Gone?”

  1. Yes, I read. I think I read more than I used to mainly because there are less people around me now. I enjoy a good story. Non-fiction is more of a chore for me, but there are a handful of them which I re-read because of their impact on me. Those are mostly Christian books.
    Back to reading fiction – This has to transport me to a place or a character’s life. I especially like character-driven fiction, but if it has a setting that draws me in, that makes it even better. I have a difficult time reading when there is noise around me, particularly TV or conversation. My husband can black all of that out, but not me. That’s why I think I read more now. I’m a great airplane reader because all noise becomes white noise there. I really discovered the value of reading when I started writing. I wanted to know how others told their stories. Not to get in on the pity party, but it has surprised me that more of my friends who read my book didn’t give it a review on Amazon, but I think they don’t know how much that matters to the writers and how it helps promote our work. (If you’re reading this and you fit in that category, know that those reviews are like gold to us.) All of the encouragements I have had, and I’ll bet you have had, make a huge difference to us, too. But those Amazon reviews…


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