Tuesday, February 19, 2008

When Readers Die

I realized recently that it’s been quite some time since I’ve seen anyone reading a book in public. Being a writer, this concerns me – and so, since I am well versed in several methods of research, I set out to discover the reason behind this lack of book consumption.

Based on my survey of ten McDonalds employees (where I work undercover as part of my efforts to thwart the black market kangaroo meat trade), I discovered the following:

-One in 10 people read books for pleasure
-Five in 10 people read only the newspaper, because it is available free at work
-Three in 10 people do not read
-One in 10 people wish me to stop asking stupid questions and clean the fryers

After I extrapolated the results of this survey, I determined that according to the current world birth and death rate, for every reader that dies, 0.003 readers are born. This is an unacceptable replacement rate. Therefore, I concluded that my survey was flawed, and I sought a more comprehensive source of data.

According to The Jenkins Group:

-1/3 of high school graduates never read another book for the rest of their lives
-42 percent of college graduates never read another book after college
-80 percent of U.S. families did not buy or read a book last year
-70 percent of U.S. adults have not been in a bookstore in the last five years
-57 percent of new books are not read to completion
-70 percent of books published do not earn back their advance
-70 percent of books published do not make a profit

These statistics raise the extrapolation of reader birth-to-death ratio by several tenths of a percentage point. According to The Jenkins Group’s information, for every reader that dies, 0.34 readers are born. This is slightly more acceptable.

I will provide you with one further set of statistics, which forms perhaps the single most important conclusion in my research:

-80 percent of survey focus groups choose a flawed set of participants to answer survey questions, such as stock market traders and Singapore housewives
-95 percent of statistics are made up on the spot
-70 percent of surveyed high school college students had just been forced to read and interpret Beowulf
-64 percent of Americans responded that they are far too busy reading books to take part in ridiculous surveys

Take from my research what you will. I have come to my own conclusions, and they include heavy marketing in Singapore.


Here is today’s Zen statement: If you always tell the truth, you do not have to remember everything.


Aaron Paul Lazar said...

LOL! This is great stuff, SW!

Pretty scary stats, but you know... I do believe most of them. At work here, where Gus LeGarde is famous and I'm their "local celebrity," most of the readers of books in general are wives, mothers, daughters, grandmothers, aunts, sisters of my non-literary male coworkers.

I'm afraid men who read is a category that's rapidly declining, too. Scary! I don't wanna be the only guy out here reading and writing books!

Okay, in reality, we know there are tons of men who love to read. They just don't work with me. And some of them even read LeGarde Mysteries. Phew.

Sheila said...

A funny and fantastic post!
I would like to know the stats on how many people don't read in public because of the cover of the book.
I would also like to know how that black market kangaroo meat thing is going.

s.w. vaughn said...

Thank you, COS.

That is a good point regarding book covers. I have heard rumors of certain imprints that deliberately provide brown paper covers for some of their more explicit titles. Something I will have to look into.

As for the kangaroo meat trade, I am closing in on the ringleaders. Expect to see the headlines soon.