Sunday, August 8, 2021

As Reading Time Rises, Disparities In Race & Education Persist


Book sales were up in 2020. So was the amount of time Americans read. But a recent Labor Department survey regarding reading habits shows some troubling results.

The survey was taken when the pandemic shut things down. From May -December 2020, Americans reported a 21% increase in reading time from a year ago. There was no mention as to what was read, so books, blogs, magazines, newspapers, and websites were lumped together. Thus, no conclusion can be made as to whether more book reading took place.

What was interesting was the breakdown by race. White people read the most (22 minutes/day). Hispanic people were the least at six minutes/day. Black people were 14 minutes a day. Asians were 11 minutes per day. Why is there such a disparity, especially when so much content is available for free online, at libraries, and at community centers?

Also of interest: For those without high school diplomas, daily reading average fell by 42% last year. For those with at least a bachelor’s degree, reading time jumped by 24%. On the low end, the un educated read six and a half minutes per day. The educated read 31 minutes per day.

In all scenarios, the amount of time spent reading was seemingly low, especially compared to how much time we watch television, play games, scroll on social media, or commute. Reading should be a more valued activity. Without more people reading, not only does the book industry suffer, but all of America. Literacy is such a valuable skill to possess. It should be used to make lives better.

What can be done about this? 

  • Do PSAs on reading -- to children and to ourselves.
  • Books should be handed out for free at public locations.
  • Schools need to encourage the reading of books more often. 
  • Donations and government grants need to flow better to literacy groups.
  • Libraries need to market themselves better to the community.
  • Rewards should be given to people who read a certain amount. 

We can no longer make assumptions about reading. We need to go out and champion books and the benefits of reading. All too often we look for an escape. Why not books? 

We often need to know certain things. Why not books? 

We want to be entertained. Why not books? 

We have unanswered questions. Why not books? 

Technology, meds, or genetically altered foods can change our lives, hopefully for the better. But nothing replaces books or substitutes for the pay-off of reading. 



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About Brian Feinblum

Brian Feinblum should be followed on Twitter @theprexpert. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog ©2021. Born and raised in Brooklyn, he now resides in Westchester with his wife, two kids, and Ferris, a black lab rescue dog. His writings are often featured in The Writer and IBPA’s The Independent.  This was named one of the best book marketing blogs by BookBaby and recognized by Feedspot in 2018 as one of the top book marketing blogs. It was also named by as a "best resource.” He recently hosted a panel on book publicity for Book Expo America. For more information, please consult: 



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