Decline in Reading

Decline in Reading

This photo is from 2011. There is no real way to measure or accurately poll this, but through the eyes of a street photographer, it seems like less and less people are reading. Especially in the last few years, the prevalent street activity is people using their smart phones.

The overall decline in reading seems to be supported by research. According to 2014 polls, "23% of American adults had not read a single book in the past year". In 1978, that number was about 8 percent. And, those who do read, are reading less and less fiction: "Only 47% of adults had read at least one novel in 2012".

From the perspective of a writer - fiction or non-fiction - things are getting bleak. In the U.S., over 300,000 titles are published every year. Add to that, over 600,000 self published books. There is an ever-growing body of "must-read" classics. Less and less people are reading books, instead, are distracting themselves with the Internet, social-media and Television shows. Where superficial viral videos are getting millions of hits, "the average U.S. nonfiction book is now selling less than 250 copies per year and less than 3,000 copies over its lifetime". And probably most significantly, a lot of what can be written has already been written - it's becoming harder to come up with truly original works. With the expection of few "lucky" authors, writing is not paying, and even when distributed freely, any serious content is mainly being ignored.
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