4 Ways Reading and Writing are Not on The Decline
As an English major, one of the topics that seems to constantly arise is the decline in literature over the past decade. The blame is normally pointed towards movies and videos that are easily accessible via the internet.
This opinion seems very logical at a first glance.
Statistics show that the average American spends 5 hours a day watching television, another 5 hour on the internet and their smart phones.
With more time than ever being dedicated to these activities, it leads less and less time towards reading, which would cause a direct decline in writing.
On top of this: In 2014, the amount of Americans who said they did not finish a book was up to 23%. That number was only at 13% ten years ago.
However, statistics can be deceiving. While it may seem that we are in a cultural decline, I would argue that we live in an age where writing, and even reading, is more prolific than ever before.
1. The Decline In Reading Has Stopped
I'd like to get this one out of the way first. The supposed decline of book reading is mainly used as a statistic to scare people about the modern age.
The same Atlantic Monthly article I mentioned above, goes on to state how it's not nearly as bad as people like to believe.
While young adults are indeed reading less than their adult counterparts, this is not a new statistic. "According to the NEA (National Endowment for the Arts), teens and twenty-somethings have almost always read less than older adults.”
Not only that but the article continues to say how 52% of 18-24 year olds have indeed read a book outside of school or work; the same rate it was at in 2002 before the Facebook era began.
If reading culture was indeed dying, this is the group we would see deteriorate the most.
Additionally, the 65+ group that finishes the most books, is also the group that watches the most television, over 50 hours a week! There is no correlation between the amount of other mediums consumed, and how many books are being read.
2. Article Based Sites On The Internet Are Thriving
Cracked.com is a website that has no right to exist.
Cracked.com is a hugely successful comedy article website. The articles tend to be around 3,000 words long, and despite the fact that they frequently have quite serious articles the website still receives 300 million monthly views.
That number does not seem to show a decline in people reading. In fact, it shows quite the opposite.
Although reading is certainly less popular, we have witnessed in the past few years the rise of online article publications.
Buzzfeed, Reddit, IGN, HuffingtonPost, all popular websites that revolve around reading, and most even accept and promote users writing. Even here at Gongsters, we can collect thousands of views on our original written pieces. Which drives me to my third point...
3. Publication Is Easier Than Ever Before
Getting a book or article published has never been an easy task. Not only do the publishing companies take a huge chunk of the profits, but they are also very selective of who they publish, and rightfully so.
A big publishing house or newspaper has a name to uphold, and therefor has a standard they must keep, and a right to a certain amount of the profits.
However, the monopoly of publishing companies is slowly coming apart.
The rise in self-publishing over the past few years has been astounding, and what it means for authors of less “publishable” books is amazing.
Not only does the author receive a significantly larger cut of the profits, but it makes publishing books remarkably easier.
According to PBS, in 2011 self-publishing made approximately 100 million dollars, and nearly doubled in profit in 2012 (PBS.org). Self-published authors have even made it onto bestseller lists.
This has resulted in an explosion of books published. Bowker reported that in the US alone over 3 million self-published books were sold, while the traditional book market continued to grow by 5%.
The main problem that authors are having, isn’t a lack of interest, it’s oversaturation of a market.
4. The Blogosphere
Ten years ago, there would have been no way that any article written in a blog, would have been seen by anyone but the friends of the person who wrote it.
The Blogosphere has blown up, and is incredibly prevalent in modern society. Millions upon millions of blogs exist, each one involves an individual (or group) writing what is on their mind, and can be read by anyone.
Writing on this level would have been unimaginable a decade ago, and now we take it for granted.
So, is writing dead? Is reading dead? I’d argue no.
All one has to do is look at the internet and see how many reading and writing opportunities have arisen because of it.
More books have been published than ever before, article based websites are booming, and a blogosphere that has become more and more influential as time goes on.
Is it all sunshine and lollipops? No, of course not. However, it is always easy to look at a new age and bemoan the loss of a bygone era. Although we have lost some things, what we have gained is incredible: an opportunity for anyone to attempt to write the novel of their dreams; an ease of access to the type of reading that the individual wants to read.
We are experiencing a renaissance of writing in the digital age, and it’s time we learnt to appreciate that.