Are people reading less?
In what has been described as the golden age of content, variety exists in abundance. Making and enjoying content is easier than ever before with sites like YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and TikTok. The internet has created a pool of content that is being constantly stirred with new additions every second.
Due to said prevalence, readership is said to be in a noticeable decline. According to almost every statistical report, the number of readers is continually declining and less time is allotted to reading, each year. However, there are variables to be taken into account, like the non-traditional media of reading and the Covid-19 pandemic itself.
In contrast, there are many more reading options available. Reading is no longer limited to literary works — self-help books, comics, and online content have generated significant readership. Whilst the idea of books may intimidate readers, the idea of reading in association with artwork, exercises, quizzes, etc. seems to be less daunting.
Ever since Barefoot Gen, a manga, was translated fully into English in 1979, the global readership of manga has significantly increased. The widespread popularity of anime has also drawn viewers to the original sources, which happen to be manga more often than not. For those who find reading traditional novels disconcerting for the barrage of words, manga and light novels tend to be more welcoming due to the device not only being both words and illustrations.
The internet has made pop culture globally accessible which, when merged with content creation, gave rise to a significant portion of social reading – a phenomenon created by sites like Wattpad, Tumblr, Asianfanfics, Archive of Our Own, and more. Consumers of pop culture write fictions of their favourite celebrities and other popular stories, and get feedback from other fans, which often get published. Literature, this way, has now become more interactive than ever.
While there is always talk of decline in readership, most of it is based on the US statistics. Before Covid, in 2018, Europeans were spending more on books and magazines than package holidays. African readers used their phones to read, spending four million hours and showing a significant increase of 32 percent from the year before.
The Covid-19 pandemic has generated more reading in the past two years. This year, Americans read nearly 25 percent more than the previous year. China, at 36 percent, has the highest percentage of everyday book readers. Europeans have reportedly spent over an hour reading every day. E-book sales were always outsold by print books; its sales have further plummeted this year.
All of this goes on to show that readership has simply changed in nature and has not become obsolete.
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