Saturday, August 25, 2007

Guest Blogger Don Bruns

One in four adults read no books last year. It's a lead story in newspapers today. According to an Associated Press-Ipsos poll released Tuesday, of those who did read, women and seniors were most avid and religious works and pop fiction were the top choices. The typical person read four books in the last year. Half read more and half read fewer. Excluding those who hadn't read any, the usual number read was seven.

Analyists attribute the listlessness to competition from the Internet and other media, the unsteady economy, and a well-established industry with limited opportunities for expansion.

If pasta dishes were overtaking beef dishes in popularity, the Beef Industry would band together and have a national campaign, and maybe do commecials that said something like "BEEF, IT'S WHAT'S FOR DINNER!"

Or if the milk industry was experiencing flat sales, the Dairy Industry would probably come up with a campaign that said "GOT MILK?"

Instead, the publishing industry keeps pushing top tiered authors, and their own books to try and capture the seven books per reader.

There's nothing wrong with that, but I wonder why the major publishers can't band together for a campaign that doesn't sell individual books. A campaign that promotes the excitement of reading. A series of billboards, television ads, print pieces, that show someone reading...on a an easy chair, on the train, on a plane, in a restaurant, in a library...and the catch phrase could be "A good book can go anywhere!" Or pictures of exotic locations, with the slogan "A book can take you anywhere." Or just a series of print ads that say..."Caught you reading. Read a good book lately?" Or maybe a campaign that shows a parent reading, and a little kid next to the parent with a book. The slogan could be "Kids learn good habits by example. Read a book!"

It seems to me that the publishing industry could help put some excitement back into reading. And if we could just get each reader in America to read one more book a year...just one, it might be mine. Or yours.

Don Bruns is a mystery writer with a new release Sept. 2007.
Stuff To Die For is not only a book, but a short movie. You can learn more about both at


Darlene Ryan said...

I know many analysts say people are reading less because of too much competition from other forms of entertainment--including the internet, but I've also heard some experts say part of the problem is declining reading skills.

What do you think? And what do you think writers can do? Should we band together to promote reading? Should we jump on the literacy bandwagon? Should we give away more books? Visit more schools? Pose for sexy pictures on our book covers?

Anyone else have any ideas?

Lonnie Cruse said...

IF I posed for sexy pictures on my book covers or anywhere else, reading would decline to an ALL NEW LOW level, sigh.

I think love of reading begins early, in childhood, and that is where I'd concentrate my efforts.

Basically, we should spread out and try everything. Reading is important.

Julia Buckley said...

Don, I think this is a great point, and Harry Potter has proved there are millions of kids out there who still want to, and like to, read.

As a high school teacher, I can tell you that students do have less ability to concentrate (in general) and many of them, even as freshmen in high school, cannot read aloud without skipping words or losing their place--and some of them can't read aloud at all.

They also tell me, with great pride, how they are able to multi-task--talking on the phone, IMing, even watching television all while they are supposed to be writing.

A recent study suggests that the more multi-tasking is done, the less a person will be able to think deeply about any one subject--and that, I think, is what is affecting concentration.

Down with multi-tasking! Up with long quiet afternoons and reading clubs!

Darlene Ryan said...

Julia, the munchkin--who is almost 10 reads aloud to one of us every morning unless she is vomiting or a body part has fallen off. She gets to pick what she reads so it might be anything from the newspaper, to a kid's book to one of my cookbooks. I've been told by more than one mother that this is "mean."

I think not being able to read well is mean.

Don Bruns said...

And then I read recently that kids are reading Potter but it's not translating into reading as a habit. They go back to reading nothing in the interum. Maybe we need to write more exciting books, with outlandish The Da Vinci Code?

Sandra Parshall said...

Don, you may be joking, but I think kids *do* want more exciting books. They're bombarded by sensation from TV, movies, video games -- a quiet little book won't hold their attention. Anything that stimulates their imaginations and emotions will hook them. Hey, that's true for me too!

catie said...

Personally I love your idea. =)

georgia said...

I think the desire to read start with the young. I have a six-year old granddaughter. After I take her to her ballet lesson, I take her to Barnes & Noble. We go to the children's department where she spends a hour looking over all the books. She'll pick a couple and find a corner where she will lay on the floor reading.

We usually leave the children's department with a small book for her and her brother.

We've been doing this for two years and everytime I visit her, she asks "Can we go to Barnes and Noble, today?" And I love taking her.

georgia lee arnt