Thursday, April 23, 2009

Appalling Reader Stats

After my Favorite Author post, Shaida looked up the actual stats of how many books people read a year. Inspired, I did a little sleuthing of my own...and the most current survey I could find was the one Shaida did from 2007. After my conservative estimate (or so I thought) of most people reading about 25 novels a year, I'm shocked and saddened to read that the 2007 poll found that the average person reads a mere 4 books a year! That's it?

The article goes on to break down the stats. No surprises: Women read more than men. The college-educated read more than those without degrees. The elderly read the most.

The article claims that the Internet and TV are to "blame," which prompted me to admire the deep-rooted cultural bias that reading a book is better than other entertainment activities. (It also reminded me of an earlier post about the Saturation of Story—people don't have to rely on books for their stories anymore; they can find them in TV shows, movies, Internet stories, even blogs.)

This cultural bias is not only in America. Several UK studies have shown that many people lie about which books they've impress others. According to, 46% of men and 33% of women lie about the books they've read. Reuters even lists the top ten books people pretend they've read. (Interestingly, President Obama's book made the top-ten list.) I've only read two books on the list.

I'm not quite sure what I think about people pretending to have read certain books (or the fact that men are more likely to have more unread books on their shelves—is that to impress again?). I'm horrified, as a writer, that so few people are reading. I've already read five times the number of books this year that most people will read all year!

And what I wouldn't have given to be part of that poll! I could have told them what authors and which genres I've read the most of, and in which month. I'm sure they would have loved to have all that information, too.

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