Monday, January 14, 2008

The future of reading; the future of books

Recently, I came across a blog post in a more finance-oriented blog that related to the future of media. The blogger, aware his sample size of his own three children don't really constitute any meaningful, scientific source, didn't really come to any conclusion, but rather to several suppositions about the future of media.

The post is rather interesting with respect to all media and entertainment types, but naturally I was really interested in what the written word. Here's what he said from his finance point of view:

- mass market magazines might be undervalued. [...]
- books may be the one category of media and entertainment that aren't
disrupted by digital technology. or maybe we just haven't seen the technology
that will do it. i honestly don't know. and i don't know how the book business
is faring versus five or ten years ago. but at least in my family, books are
still a growth sector.

I've compared my own sample size of 8 nieces and nephews (the ninth is three-month old tomorrow, so I didn't count her yet :). With respect to digital media, the post was bang on. With respect to magazines, I didn't find a similarity. As for books, I find that depended more on the house the kids grow up in, but most are avid readers.

Alas, statistics is not proving our small sample size. Americans (not sure if that represents "world," but it was easiest to find) are indeed reading less, as I think we've all been feeling. Interestingly, "teen fiction is a rapidly expanding category," but that can be attributed, at least in part, to Harry Potter. Overall, there is a decline in sales according to the National Endowment for the Arts report. One saving grace is that reading scores among nine-year olds are soaring.

So, what is the future of books and reading? Would there be alternatives to fiction?

I'm pretty sure print will not decline in favor of digital books, which is fine -- reading is reading -- but fiction itself - will anyone be reading?


Deborah Woehr said...

That's a good question, and one that is hard to predict. I was thrilled to see my youngest son devour all seven of the Harry Potter books before he moved on to other books in a similar vein.

Alternatives to fiction? Right now I see video games and movies as major culprits in the decline of recreational reading for all ages.

rdl said...

I think there are alot of distractions and alternatives but nothing can replace reading.

Melly said...

Oh Deborah, so good to hear your young ones read. But then again, he grows up in a house where his parents give him a good example.

rdl, I do hope you're right of course!