This is a guest post by author Tom Collins
Are we really dumbing down as a country?
I was reminded of the dumbing down issue when I read that Luke Wilson, who starred in the movie Idiocracy , was involved in car crash in California. Fortunately, he is okay. That is not true for the driver of the Ferrari that clipped his car before crashing.
One-fourth of the population reports they have not read a single book in the last twelve months. As an author, I’m often surprised by how long it takes before an individual purchasing a book reads it or how long they take to read the book once purchased. It is not unusual to have someone say, I’m reading “such and such.” That not something I would ever say. I would say, “I read such and such.” If I get my hands on a book, I’m going to read it — not nurse it for a couple of weeks.
Nevertheless, it is good to know that 75% of the populace are reading books. The average woman reader reads fourteen books a year. The male counterpart reads nine. eBooks are the fastest growing format, but paper still wins out as the most popular with paperbacks leading the way. Hardcover books are on the decline as home libraries disappear. They are, however, the top seller at book signings. Audiobooks only account for 12% of book units sold.
As an aside, I have discovered through experience that the print format doesn’t always translate favorably to audio. I think authors would be smart to revise the audio version to better accommodate the spoken word.
I have not arrived at the answer to the dumbing down question yet, but it concerns me. Was Idiocracy more documentary than fiction? We are certainly changing as a society and there appears to be less awareness of history. Without history there is no progress. Progress comes from the lessons of history.
For more on trends in the book market, check out the Five Key trends in the Book Market by Sophie McNeill.