Saturday, May 4, 2019
Are Books Thriving?
I believe in books and that the nation still reads them. But there are horrible signs that the book is under threat. The numbers show positive news but my observations feel contradictory.
On the positive:
76% of Americans said they read at least one book last year.
Book sales increased every year for the past five years.
The number of indie bookstores has risen for nine consecutive years.
On the negative:
I don’t see people reading books like they used to. A glance on my train, in Starbucks, or on street benches used to yield people with a book in hand. Now it’s device in hand, mainly smart phones.
So which is it – are we seeing books thrive or not?
I recently spent a vacation in Vancouver, one of the three biggest cities in Canada. Only a handful of bookstores serve what looks to be a well-to-do, educated city. It did have a nice library, though. I also saw newspaper scarcity. Few places sold one – and only a few copies were available at each one. When I asked a restaurant hostess where I could get a newspaper she was dumbfounded.
When I went two hours north to a ski resort at Whisler Mountain, I was happy to see a large library but found just a tiny bookstore that was buried within the village of stores. When I asked for directions to it from my hotel, I was told by one worker: “I don’t know. I don’t read.”
Holy shit! Who admits that – and why would a woman in her 20’s not read books as if she were practicing a religious tenet?
Her answer shocked me and my 14-year-old son. It deeply disappointed me. But we know there are tens of millions in America who don’t read and I imagine a few million in Canada are also book-free.
I don’t believe the book is dead and I do believe the majority of books consumed are in paper formats, but I also see there is a huge minority that does not read and does not buy books. This must change.
We need to reward people who read books. Literacy is no joke. The more people who read books – and the more books that are read by readers – the better our world should be. Reading can fight disease, depression, and death. It can nurture the soul, inspire many, educate us, make us healthier and safer, leave us laughing, and unite us.
Are books thriving? The numbers look positive, but I also see too many gaps that need to be fixed. Help us bridge them.
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Brian Feinblum’s insightful views, provocative opinions, and interesting ideas expressed in this terrific blog are his alone and not that of his employer or anyone else. You can – and should -- follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. He feels much more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog ©2019. Born and raised in Brooklyn, he now resides in Westchester. His writings are often featured in The Writer and IBPA’s Independent. This was named one of the best book marketing blogs by Book Baby http://blog.bookbaby.com/2013/09/the-best-book-marketing-blogs and recognized by Feedspot in 2018 as one of the top book marketing blogs. Also named by WinningWriters.com as a "best resource.” He recently hosted a panel on book publicity for Book Expo America.