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Do Americans Read?
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Post Do Americans Read? 
If you plan to author a book and make a profit, see what you are up against:

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 the books published do not make a profit.

About 120,000 books are published each year in the U.S.
A successful fiction book sells 5,000 copies.
A successful nonfiction book sells 7,500 copies.

On average, a bookstore browser spends 8 seconds looking at a book's front cover and 15 seconds looking at the back cover.

Each day in the U.S., people spend 4 hours watching TV, 3 hours listening to the radio and 14 minutes reading magazines.

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On the other hand, bestseller fiction like Harry Potter, James Patterson and Stephen King still sell 100s of thousands... sometimes even millions... of copies.

Good books still get read.

But a lot of literature takes the 'art for art's sake' approach and wonders why it only sells to a few modern lit classes on a handful of college campuses....

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Post Illiterate Americans 
And most folks seem to equate self help books and business "get rich quick" manuals as reading, too.

I've often wondered if there is a correlation between the folks who refuse to read and their lack of ability to empathize, think beyond the literal sense of a statement, or have a sense of humor beyond that of the average 14 yr old.

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I think I'm anachronistic, even among my starting-to-age Generation X compatriots.

Although I still enjoy a good movie or videogame, I grew up a voracious reader.

It started with my mom reading to me as a child, and I wonder how many parents still take time for that, as opposed to plopping them down in front of an HDTV with a stack of DVDs and PS3 games and calling it good. If children are to become readers, I really believe it begins with parents reading stories to their children.

In my small MN town, we didn't have a library in town, we had a bookmobile that came through every other week. (Had to drive into Austin to get to a real library.)

I was reading before kindergarten and by first grade, the bookmobile system just wasn't working for me... At that age, you're typically allowed to check out 12 books at a time, and during the summers, the bookmobile would onto stay parked in town from noon to 5 p.m.

So, I would take back my 12 books from the last time, check out 12 more, go home, read them all, rush back, check out 12 more, go home, read them all, and then TRY to get back in time before the bus left to check out another 12, so I wouldn't be stuck for another two weeks with 12 books I'd already finished. (This may have even been the summer before I started kindergarten, not sure. I was a hugely advanced reader for my age.)

Finally, my mom intervened and got the bookmobile to agree to let me check out middle-reader books, not just picture books. My first "big" book was Old Yeller. I plowed through Beverly Cleary, Judy Blume and Roald Dahl. Before long I was into teen fiction and reading everything from science books on dinosaurs to the science fiction of Ray Bradbury. All while still in elementary school.

Sure, I watched a good portion of TV and we were even one of the first families to have PONG!, the first videogame system. But I never stopped reading, and still read a lot today, though I tend to take more time with books that I used to. My love for reading and writing led to me becoming an English major and getting a master's in writing.

Which led to "the poor house," but oh well. Despite how rare it is these days to find literate people who can read and write well, communicate effectively... Folks like me are still sadly undervalued in the marketplace.

I recently was passed over for one job I applied to because even though they advertised it as a writing position and I was clearly the best writer... what they REALLY wanted was someone who could code CGI, Perl and Java. Their attitude seemed to be, "if we only wanted someone who could write, we'd be paying a lot less for this position."


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Post Reading 

We are very similar in this respect. I read almost anything I can get my hands on. A 250-350 page book lasts me a day or two at most. If I hadn't discovered Half Price Books I'd be bankrupt because the library stock is too old.

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Post I Heart Reading! 
Craig and LadyM -

Hear, hear!

I started reading at about age 3. I was sounding out and saying everything that was in front of me, which was in print. By the time I was 4, I was able to read the cereal box on the kitchen counter, and my mom recalls me sounding out, "E-L P-R-O-D-U-C-T-O P-E-R-F-E-C-T-O" off the top of my grandpa's cigar box.

In school I was reading the 'big' books before everyone else...I remember reading all of the Laura Ingalls Wilder series books, which had probably one or two illustrations per chapter, while everyone else in my grade was still reading the shorter stories with more pictures in the books.

When I had a nine-to-five job outside of the home to commute to every day, I would read on the bus and on my lunch breaks, on the days I didn't go out with the girls.

I can't understand why more people don't read. It is by far, the most pleasurable, relaxing, fun and interesting thing I can think of to do, when I'm not working. If I had no internet or TV I would read about a book per day, or more!

"When I get a little money, I buy books; and if any is left I buy food and clothes."
-Desiderius Erasmus (1466-1536)

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