Why Americans Can't, Don't and Won't Read
• When one of the most important e-mail messages of his life landed in his in-box a few years ago, Kord Campbell overlooked it. Not just for a day or two, but 12 days. He finally saw it while sifting through old messages: A big company wanted to buy his Internet start-up. “I stood up from my desk and said, ‘Oh my God, oh my God, oh my God,’” Mr. Campbell said. “It's kind of hard to miss an e-mail like that, but I did.” The message had slipped by him amid an electronic flood: two computer screens alive with e-mail, instant messages, online chats, a Web browser and the computer code he was writing.
—Matt Richtel, “Hooked on Gadgets and Paying the Mental Price” The New York Times
When my first novel, “Cedarhurst Alley,” was published in 1969, the total number of new titles being brought out by all book publishers was 15,000 that year. As a result, my little marshmallow fluff of comedy received a string of nice reviews including one in Time magazine. It got noticed by movie producers and was optioned multiple times. (Alas, no film was ever made.)
Today, over 400,000 new titles are being published annually—roughly 8,000 a week.
Who has time to know about them, let alone read them?
• One in four adults say they read no books at all in the past year.
—Associated Press-Ipsos poll, 2007
When you see numbers like these, it amazing that anybody reads anything or buys anything.