The New York Times is running a piece on whether Americans are still reading. You can get the first installment here:

Rich, Motoko. Literacy Debate: Online, R U Really Reading? New York Times, July 27, 2008.

Of course the article comes to the usual conclusions: Americans aren’t reading as much PoP as they used to – and young Americans are eschewing POP for the Internet almost entirely.


What the article didn’t assert was that Americans, young or old, are reading less than they did, say, 10 years ago, or 20, or 30. There have always been readers, and there have always been people who don’t read. There have always been kids who have gone to the library (or whose parents took them there) and there have been kids who have spent their free time doing something else – like playing. Some of those children grew up to read, and some of them didn’t.

Format: so formats are changing. Time for me to go out on a limb here: big deal.  I don’t care. PoP, audiobooks, DVDs, anime and graphic novels – libraries are in the business of providing information, and I’m happy to do that in whatever format my patrons want. I doubt it spells the end of libraries. Did the monks sit arround worrying that because of this new thing called printing, people just weren’t borrowing papyrus the way they used to?

Finally – to give this a marketing hook – different people consume information differently during the course of their lives. Doing marketing research to find out what patrons want and need and to try to provide it to them is the kind of marketing we need to do. As long as we do it, I think we’ll be okay.