This was shocking to me, I would have never thought so at all, but I have no reason to disbelieve these statistics (You will have to register to see the document - page 15 which quotes these documents so I have quoted the stats here)
- 58% of the US adult population never reads another book after high school
- 42% of college graduates never read another book
- 80% of US families did not buy or read a book last year.
- 70% of US adults have not been in a bookstore in the last five years
- 57% of new books are not read to completion.
- Most readers do not get past page 18 in a book they have purchased.
I am dumbfounded but well, that's where it is coming from. I then tried to think about the financial markets where I work. This industry is perhaps having the most intelligent, educated and wealthy lot globally compared to other industries. And they do not read that many books. If you walk across a trading floor and ask how many fiction and non fiction (non-financial) books they have bought and read, you would hit perhaps 10% - 20% level who would say yes.
And having been around the world, I would say that the above US statistics are on the top end of the scale, most other countries will have much lower numbers of readership, ownership and purchasing. Either books are way too expensive or they are too time consuming. My father, the archetypical absent minded professor of engineering with 18 degrees in engineering, I can never remember seeing him reading anything that was fiction or non-fiction (non-engineering) related. So that's what my thoughts are about other countries, do you think that other countries have better readership, book ownership and purchasing statistics?
Last night, I had the privilege of being with a load of authors and publishers and teachers and writers and people of that ilk. All they said was that the mainstream publishing business has been reduced to chicklit, celebrity fiction and misery fiction. Nothing more nothing less. Well, not surprised. I attended the London Book Fair last year, supposedly the largest commercial Book Fair in the world, and I have no reason to think that this narrowing of publishing to chicklit is anything but global. (curiously, I did not manage to find any global statistics on this industry)
But a bit sad at the loss of the bibliophilic and logophilic gene in our society.