Personally, I prefer audiobooks over all other formats, with digital running a fairly close second. Unlike friends who love the feel and even the smell of a print book, to me, only the words themselves matter. And now that my eyesight’s going down the crapper and I have the attention span of a gnat, being able to listen to a book is a big deal.
I don’t think I’ve ever actually smelled a book, unless it’s been stored somewhere for a long time and smells like mold. As for holding a book, I don’t miss carrying around heavy hardcover books. Whenever someone mentions it, I always think of my dad, who used to say he’d rather move appliances than my crates of books. I wish he were here so I could ask him to move my books–then hand him my Kindle or smartphone!
No matter which format, I don’t read–or listen–like I used to. There was a time when I spent a great deal of money on books. These days, I spend only a small fraction of what I once spent. And it seems I’m not alone. An article in Publishers Weekly offers statistics showing readership is on the decline while the number of books being published is definitely on the rise, thanks to the ease of self-publishing.
A drop from 79% to 73% doesn’t seem like a large amount, but when you consider the rise in the number of books being published, well, I can see why so many authors are lamenting poor sales. We’re not only competing for sales with other books, but with other forms of entertainment, such as music, movies, TV shows and YouTube. According to the National Endowment for the Arts, only 43% of adults read at least one work of literature for pleasure in the previous year–the lowest since they started tracking reading habits back in the ’80s.
According to the PW story, among those who do still read books, they only average twelve books per year. I buy more than that, but rarely finish reading a book I start. That’s not to say anything negative about the unfinished books. I just don’t have the enthusiasm I once had for reading. If the same story were a movie or a TV show, I’d finish.
An embarrassing confession, since I’m an author myself.
Think about it. Do you read as much as you did five years ago? If not, what are you now doing for entertainment?