Monday, October 5, 2015
Will Books Speak The Same Language In 50 Years?
America, land of the immigrant, the free, and home of the brave, is not only turning less white, but less homegrown, and thus, less English-speaking. Don’t confuse me with Donald Trump, who wants to build a wall around our country, circa 1400 castle era, to keep out foreigners, but I do have to question if America can handle becoming more diverse.
Currently, America is 63% White, 18% Hispanic, 12% Black, and 6% Asian. But a Pew Research Center study predicts that the United States, in 2065, will balloon from 320 million to 441 million and the enlarged population will look dramatically different by then. No one ethnicity will be the majority, though whites will be the largest minority. America will be 46% White, 24% Hispanic, 14% Asian, and 13% Black.
More importantly, immigrants will make up 18% of the population – up from today’s 14% and the 5% of 1965. But this is all wild speculation, based on current birth/death patterns and immigration laws. A lot can change in 50 years. The US could determine it wants fewer immigrants or that it wants only those who speak English. Disease, war, and any of a hundred potential – and unpredictable – things could happen between now and then to change the course of the nation’s growth and demographics.
But if things hold true, what will this mean for book publishing?
First, if the nation grows in population by a third in the next half-century, this will mean growth in the number of readers available. This presumably will lead to more books sold.
Second, if the nation’s different ethnic groups continue to grow and whites decrease by comparison, the storylines in books will change. Books will need to appeal to what Asians and Hispanics care about.
Third, and this is key, the question of English language immersion and assimilation will determine if we’ll continue to see books sold in the English language or if we’ll start to see an increase in foreign language books.
Fourth, the news media will begin to change its press room make-up and in turn, alter what gets covered and what doesn’t, which will influence and impact book coverage.
Fifth, demographic shifts will alter political races, which will impact who rules the government and sets polices that could influence book sales.
Sixth, there could come a time where there will be another civil war, perhaps based on class and race. Will it come two centuries after the first one? The upcoming demographic swing could lead to wild speculation in novels being written now and in the coming decades. Soon stories will cover Asian lesbians in the White House and Hispanics owning the largest airlines.
The United States has always fluctuated in its makeup, but for many years white men controlled its richest assets and power hubs. That is changing now. Soon we’ll get to see if new cultural perspectives can come to light to make the nation great again. It certainly remains to be seen what impact all of these changes will have on which books are written, promoted, sold, and become influential.
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