I have written about this in previous posts, but a recent Washington Post blog by Matt McFarland set me off again, so here I go. In a post titled “Books are losing the war for our attention. Here’s how they could fight back”, Mr. McFarland notes that while it is true that we are all reading more and more, we are not reading books, or at least not conventional books, and he includes e-books in this assessment. Interestingly, e-book sales have declined by 3% during the sales period measured between August 2012 and August 2013. McFarland also cites the fact that the number of people who do NOT read books has tripled since 1978. All of which leaves me to wonder, if so few people are reading books, why then are so many people writing them. With upwards of 10,000 e-books hitting the electronic shelves each day…yes, I said each day…one is left to wonder when the number of authors writing books will surpass the number of readers available to read them. Apparently, we are all spending far, far too much time on social media, reading Facebook posts, participating in Linkedin discussion threads, wading through email and monitoring Twitter feeds to crack an e-book, let alone a conventional book with real pages. In the words of, Russ Grandinetti, vice president of Amazon Kindle content, “Most people walk around with some kind of device or have access to some kind of device that allows them to choose how to use their time.” [my emphasis].
So there you have it…we are choosing do other things rather than to read books. So don’t go blaming the death of books on all that social media stuff – we aren’t reading books because we don’t WANT to…so there.
There are numerous solutions to our book reading problem (or lack thereof) being suggested. One suggested answer to the problem is to simply increase the number of words that we can absorb into our overloaded brains per minute. This is done by eliminating traditional left-to-right scanning of a page or display.
New software being developed by a Boston company, Spritz Inc. hopes to reinvent reading by “compact text streaming”. Freed from the burden of having to turn paper pages, or to swipe displays from page to page, we will be able to focus on a stream of information without moving our eyes, thus allowing us to plow through once formidable tomes in record time.
An example cited in Mr. McFarland’s blog post suggests that a properly focused reader using such a device might be able to read “The Catcher in the Rye” in a bit over three hours.
I wish them well with this. I am so behind on my reading.
Perhaps those of you who visit here often think it odd that I have nearly let the first third of the month of April go by without mentioning that April is National Poetry Month. Well, the fact is, I have been busy with my own poetry project lately. My collection of poems, “Traveling Light (and taking the back roads out of town)” is well under way and should be available in electronic format, and hopefully print format before the end of the month. Look for it advertised right here on EEOTPB — I mean really, where else. Download it to your Spritz app and you should be able to rip through it in about 48 seconds.