Monday, January 21, 2008

People Don't Read Anymore?

In a recent interview in the New York Times, Steve Jobs, said in reference to the Kindel, the electronic book put out by Amazon, that it will fail because "people don't read anymore." Specifically he said:
“It doesn’t matter how good or bad the product is, the fact is that people don’t read anymore,” he said. “Forty percent of the people in the U.S. read one book or less last year. The whole conception is flawed at the top because people don’t read anymore.”
I was a little shocked by this. I read 2-3 books a month. My wife reads 1-2 books a week. I go to the library once a month. I have a Barnes & Nobel discount card. I shop online at Amazon regularly.

I did a quick look-see on the internet and unhappily found similar statistics. The Guardian pretty much supported Steve. A quarter of US adults have not read a book over the past year. Older folks read more than younger folks. (I'm an older folk.) Women read more than men. (My wife is a woman.) The higher your educational degree the more you read. (My wife and I both have some of them there degrees!) It seems that I am in a growing minority of readers.

I love movies. I love video. I love books. But, to me, they are different experiences. Is the constant exposure to television and movies causing a shift in how young people absorb and learn information? How they tell and experience stories? As a teacher, I've changed my style and presentation over the years since I started in the early eighties. More hands-on. More variety. Less lecture. I've had many colleagues say that they have to teach differently because the kids are different. That may be, but couldn't some of the changes be from our becoming better at our craft? Maybe its a little of both?

I hope Steve Jobs is wrong. I hope that reading will increase over time as our kids become more savvy consumers of information. I hate to think that in 50 years the number of people who get to enjoy the deep, mind altering experience of a good book will be limited to a few academics and the occasional librarian. I hope we won't become a nation of folks who say,
"I'll just wait to see the movie!"

"One in four Americans read no books last year." Guardian Unlimited 22 aug 2007 16 Jan 2008 .
Wayne THIBAUD (b. 1920) | Betty Jean Thiebaud and Book. | 1965-1969 | American | Superrealist | Oil on canvas | Sacramento. Northern California. United States | | ©Wayne Thiebaud; Kathleen Cohen]

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