Are We Dumbing Down?

This is a guest post by author Tom Collins

Tom Collins resides in the small suburban town of Franklin, on the outskirts of music city, Nashville, Tennessee. The picturesque areas of Nashville and its surrounding middle Tennessee communities serve as the canvas for all Collins’s Mark Rollins Adventure mysteries. Collins is one of the pioneer entrepreneurs of the information technology industry. The London-based publication Citytech called him an "outstanding visionary" when he was named as one of the Top 100 Global Tech Leaders in the legal community. He is also the recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award from the publication Law Technology News for his contribution to the use of technology in the legal community. His business successes include Juris, Inc., which was purchased by LexisNexis® in 2007. Tom Collins retired from commercial activity at the end of 2007. Today he writes mystery/thrillers and continues to write and speak in the commercial world about managing for excellence. For more about the author and his books go to tomcollinsauthor.com. Books and Works by Tom Collins Include: The Language of Excellence Diversion The Claret Murders Mark Rollins and The Puppeteer Mark Rollins and The Rainmaker Mark Rollins’ New Career and the Women’s Health Club Marion Collins Remembers (Old Sayings and Lessons for Life) My Journey: Alice Elsie Welch 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.

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