That steep drop means that aggregate reading time among Americans has fallen, from an average of 23 minutes per person per day in 2004 to 17 minutes per person per day in 2017.Even prior to 1995, before computers/online entertainment/social media took a huge share of the market, reading levels were declining due to TV.
But I wondered about this:
"Numbers from the National Endowment for the Arts show that the share of adults reading at least one novel, short story, poem or play in the prior year fell from 57 percent in 1982 to 43 percent in 2015."
- Is this the only kind of reading that counts? What about nonfiction--history, biographies, even true crime? Is the NEA counting airport novels and things like that?
- Are they counting listening to audiobooks? That's a huge reading market, but some people don't consider that reading.
- Are they counting people who read on their devices?
- Are they counting like flash fiction, the humor at McSweeney's, long-form pieces in traditional or online magazines (medium.com, LA Review of Books), or, yes, blogs, for entertainment?
- Are they talking only about new books in the "I will sit down and engage with this serious but difficult (i.e., Literary with a capital L) fiction" mode or are they counting a comfort-read like Little Women or Harry Potter?
1. The genre of the leisure reading (at least broken down by fiction/nonfiction);
2. The medium of the reading (audio, computer- or device-based).
I guess what I'm trying to say is that maybe this is like the alarm that routinely goes out about people not writing much these days. Au contraire--people write all the time: texts, captions, comments on online pieces, Facebook posts, Twitter, etc. It's just that they're writing--and now, maybe consuming--forms for pleasure that we don't consider reading for pleasure.
Off topic: Thank heavens someone finally told the New York Times that it's the Darwin Martin house and not the Martin Darwin house in Buffalo. Maybe The New Yorker could lend them some factcheckers? I routinely notice grammatical errors and typos in the NYTimes (you probably do, too) that wouldn't have happened 10 years ago, so maybe that's not a priority for the paper, especially on leisure pieces, when the country's on fire. On the other hand, at least they're not reporting it as simply "upstate," which is what every other news organization writes about anything in New York state that's not NYC.