Sunday, January 18, 2009

Read Me Again, Sam

Amid reports of ongoing doom and gloom about the economy, the recession, and the worrisome state of the publishing industry (along with most other industries), it was nice to finally read an upbeat article in the Wall Street Journal this weekend about the state of fiction, how the number of people actually reading these days is on the rise.

It seems the National Endowment for the Arts has released a recent report showing that the percentage of Americans who read fiction has risen about 5% since 2002, and that the fastest growing group is, by far, the 18-24 year olds.

Yay! This means that despite the lure of the Internet, video games, movies, Ipods, text messaging and instant electronic gratification, our nation's young people are taking the time to actually sit down and read a book. It also means that despite rumblings of trouble in the publishing industry, the market for good literature is actually increasing. Happy news for a storyteller who also loves to read. :-)

Many people credit J.K. Rowling for getting kids reading again, and I'd have to agree. The kids who grew up with Harry Potter are clamoring for more, and young adult authors like Stephanie Meyer (Twilight, New Moon, Eclipse) are there to feed their teenage hunger. And, as most readers know, once you START reading, it's hard to quit, so these lucky 18-24 year olds have a lifetime of reading ahead of them.

E-book, paperback or hardcover - the delivery method is irrelevant. I'm just glad to know that fiction isn't dead, and the outlook for publishing not as bleak as it seems. According to the author of the article in the WSJ, the best way we, the reader, can help keep this trend going is simple:

Read. Read in public. Read on the subway, read at the coffee shop, read on the bus, in your doctor's waiting room. And when you're done reading, tell somebody about the book you just read, loan it to them, buy them a copy as a gift. Pass on the good news that reading is both cheap and fun. Join a book club or heck, start one! Pay it forward, dear reader, and keep the reading trend going.

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