Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Reading books not big in US

The winner of the obvious article of the day..



WASHINGTON (AP) -- There it sits on your nightstand, that book you've meant to read for who knows how long but haven't yet cracked open. Tonight, as you feel its stare from beneath that teetering pile of magazines, know one thing -- you are not alone.


Women are more avid readers than men, according to a new poll.

One in four adults say they read no books at all in the past year, according to an Associated Press-Ipsos poll released Tuesday. Of those who did read, women and seniors were most avid, and religious works and popular fiction were the top choices.

The survey reveals a nation whose book readers, on the whole, can hardly be called ravenous. The typical person claimed to have read four books in the last year -- half read more and half read fewer. Excluding those who hadn't read any, the usual number read was seven.

"I just get sleepy when I read," said Richard Bustos of Dallas, Texas, a habit with which millions of Americans can doubtless identify. Bustos, a 34-year-old project manager for a telecommunications company, said he had not read any books in the last year and would rather spend time in his backyard pool.

That choice by Bustos and others is reflected in book sales, which have been flat in recent years and are expected to stay that way indefinitely. Analysts attribute the listlessness to competition from the Internet and other media, the unsteady economy and a well-established industry with limited opportunities for expansion.

When the Gallup poll asked in 2005 how many books people had at least started -- a similar but not directly comparable question -- the typical answer was five. That was down from 10 in 1999, but close to the 1990 response of six.

In 2004, a National Endowment for the Arts report titled "Reading at Risk" found only 57 percent of American adults had read a book in 2002, a four percentage point drop in a decade. The study faulted television, movies and the Internet.

Who are the 27 percent of people the AP-Ipsos poll found hadn't read a single book this year? Nearly a third of men and a quarter of women fit that category. They tend to be older, less educated, lower income, minorities, from rural areas and less religious.

At the same time, book enthusiasts abound. Many in the survey reported reading dozens of books and said they couldn't do without them.

"I go into another world when I read," said Charlotte Fuller, 64, a retired nurse from Seminole, Florida, who said she read 70 books in the last year. "I read so many sometimes I get the stories mixed up."

Among those who said they had read books, the median figure -- with half reading more, half fewer -- was nine books for women and five for men. The figures also indicated that those with college degrees read the most, and people aged 50 and up read more than those who are younger.

Pollyann Baird, 84, a retired school librarian in Loveland, Colorado, says J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter fantasy series is her favorite. But she has forced herself to not read the latest and final installment, "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows," because she has yet to file her income taxes this year due to an illness and worries that once she started the book, "I know I'd have to finish it."

People from the South read a bit more than those from other regions, mostly religious books and romance novels. Whites read more than blacks and Hispanics, and those who said they never attend religious services read nearly twice as many as those who attend frequently.

There was even some political variety evident, with Democrats and liberals typically reading slightly more books than Republicans and conservatives.

The Bible and religious works were read by two-thirds in the survey, more than all other categories. Popular fiction, histories, biographies and mysteries were all cited by about half, while one in five read romance novels. Every other genre -- including politics, poetry and classical literature -- were named by fewer than five percent of readers.

More women than men read every major category of books except for history and biography. Industry experts said that confirms their observation that men tend to prefer nonfiction.

"Fiction just doesn't interest me," said Bob Ryan, 41, who works for a construction company in Guntersville, Alabama. "If I'm going to get a story, I'll get a movie."

Those likeliest to read religious books included older and married women, lower earners, minorities, lesser educated people, Southerners, rural residents, Republicans and conservatives.

The publishing business totaled $35.7 billion in global sales last year, 3 percent more than the previous year, according to the Book Industry Study Group, a trade association. About 3.1 billion books were sold, an increase of less than 1 percent.

4 Comments:

Anonymous Lynn said...

I was really surprised to see that article. I wonder if it's due to the fact that they are too busy reading BLOGS?

OT:I hope all is well with Carmen.

8:47 AM  
Blogger ZeRoCoOl said...

Well our feckless leader doesn't even read the paper :D and now with his brain gone no one reads the paper in the white house......good cal basil hope yer enjoying london.....

9:07 AM  
Blogger laura said...

This is shocking!!
I love to read. Everyone in my family reads. a lot.
I've slowed down a lot in the past few years, but I've read a lot more than the average that they state.
How many books have you read so far this year? What was your favorite book?

1:35 PM  
Blogger Basil Fawlty said...

Laura: I counted ten, not including three I had re-read (Orange Wednesday, Tropic of Ruislip and War is a Force that Gives Us Meaning). My favorite has to be Dogs of God by James Reston Jr., about the Spanish Inquisition and Journey Around the World about Magellan. Both had me on the edge of my seat.

Lynn: Carmen's back in the States and doing well enough. You should send her an email..she'd appreciate it.

Zerocool: my latest post is dedicated to answering your question about London, man. Loving it but boy is it weird.

6:48 PM  

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