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Friday, April 26, 2013

Express Train Pulls Away From Books

Maybe it was the time of day (rush hour) or the type of train (Metro North Commuter Rail) or just this particular day, but a quick survey of 10 people around me yielded only one person reading a book.  The rest were doing something else.  One read a newspaper. Two stared aimlessly.  One listened to music and texted.  Another surfed the Net on his phone.  One guy was doing work on his iPad and one lady was putting on her makeup.

People are still reading books.  In fact, many are.  But the morning commute is an excellent time to read a book and the fact that only one person was reading a book doesn’t bode well for the industry.

The truth is, there are too many distractions and options for people.  Smartphones, tablets, iPods and laptops are taking away from the time most people would have to read books – or newspapers or magazines.  People used to fill their gaps of time, such as train travel, by reading books.  Now, they play games, surf the Web, and text on another.

Some kind of campaign needs to be waged to encourage people to read books and to highlight why books are important to society.  Most people know books can be entertaining, thought-provoking, informative or inspirational, but it needs to be on the public consciousness more.  Otherwise, they readily grab the free and easy – or lazy – option of letting their device fill their time.  An effort needs to be made to get and read a book, but to just click on YouTube or a blog for instant gratification is all too easy.

Maybe the key is to write books in installments and to serialize a book so that people can jump into a chapter of a book instead of just texting a friend.  Or maybe we just need to encourage more people – not just children – to read books.

One day, I hope to see more than one in 10 riders reading a book.  That is, if one day we don’t do away with trains.

Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer, the nation’s largest book promoter. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This blog is copyrighted material by BookMarketingBuzzBlog ©2013 


  1. Technology has gotten in the way of simple pleasures, and all people including myself are guilty of the same indulgence. Reading broadens the mind and helps people relax. The more time we spend on social media, the less time we take to rediscover our own likes. We spend so much time on the computer (cell phone, i-pad etc.), that we have become dependent upon them. We all need to take a step back, grab a book and remember what it feels like to lose ourselves in the pages, before we forget how wonderful it feels to actually read a book...

  2. I live in South Africa where we are still a bit 'backward' re e-reading devices. Books and bookshops are alive and well. Many bookshops cleverly link up with great coffee shops so one can browse, snack, drink coffee and all in a relaxed, welcoming environment. I hope books will remain as popular as ever here.

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