Even Fewer Will Read This

by | Jul 9, 2006

Kottke points to some crazy numbers around reading habits, books and the publishing industry.

58% of the US adult population never reads another book after high school.

42% of college graduates never read another book.

80% of US families did not buy or read a book last year.

70% of US adults have not been in a bookstore in the last five years.

Startling, for sure. Yet these stats seem inconsistent with the following findings:

81% of the population feels they have a book inside them.

27% would write fiction.

28% would write on personal development.

27% would write history, biography, etc.

20% would do a picture book, cookbook, etc.

6 million manuscripts are making the rounds.

That last line is sobering in two ways. One, every writer faces immense competition. Two, while the majority of Americans think they can write, only two percent actually do.

Taking the above data in whole, it’s easy to see the number of literate people in this country is small. That scares me. How about you? What’s alarming is unless people are thinking critically “on their feet” (something reading engenders), it’s too easy to manipulate meaning on a massive scale via broadcast media and other insidious means, like using churches to do a political party’s bidding.

The number of worthy causes today makes one’s head spin. I have a bevy of personal favorites, with the environment and social justice being top-of-mind. Yet, education has to be addressed, and not just in the schools. Education needs to happen everywhere, all the time. It’s the fundemental building block, from which all else flows. To teach and to learn is a civic duty.