Reading Not At Risk: Reading is a Rare, and Valuable Skill

Reading at Risk NEABeginning as of, well, now, more people are writers than readers. Some 80% of Americans report they would like to write a novel someday, and according to the NEA report Reading at Risk less than 50% of American have read any kind of book within the last year. When you consider the ubiquity of written communication what with e-mail and texting and even blogging, more people are producing text than reading text.

This is often a reason to sound the alarm. People want to be published, They want to be read, but they don’t want to read. They don’t care about books! I’m not being alarmist. I’m being a realist. Nine out of ten books sell fewer than a hundred copies. So what if more people write novels than read novels? At least they are still thinking about novels. 30% of Americans know what a novel looks like well enough to want to have written one even if they haven’t opened one in who knows how many years.

This turns the old economy of author-audience on its head. In the future (er rather now) readers will have an audience of writers. If a person is an avid reader (a categorization of the NEA report) then you read more than 50 books a year. Say it takes two years to write a book. Then an avid reader supports a hundred writers. If you’ve taken all of that time to write, edit your book, and publish it through, then why not take the trouble and pay an avid reader to read your book?

Supply and demand dictates it. Avid readers will be supported doing what is that they love, which is read. And writers who demand an audience will get what the love, someone who even if they don’t appreciate their published book will have read it and will, at the very least, appreciate the paycheck.

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