Wednesday, June 19, 2013

13 Utterly Uplifting Facts about Reading (Response to Buzzfeed Article)

This is a response to this stupid buzzfeed article that made me really mad.

First, I am going to respond to each "Disappointing Fact", then I am going to share my own list.

13. In a 2012 survey, "almost a fifth of" kids said they'd be embarassed to be seen reading.
The same survey said, "Half of the children questioned said they enjoyed reading very much, or quite a lot, almost the same as in 2005 when the figure was 51%." 

12. 54% prefer watching TV to reading. Why does it have to be a contest?

11. Fifty Shades of Grey is a best-seller.
I have always been in the "I don't care what people read, I care that they read" camp.
Books the people deem as trashy that turn into best-sellers do so because they reach a certain demographic. People should stop being so snobby. It's so dumb to complain that fewer people are reading and then complain about a book selling over 70 million copies in the same breath. (source) People who love Fifty Shades of Grey read at least the three books in the series, and I am guessing they then went on to read other books in the genre, trying to find something they liked as much. So what's the big deal?

10, 9, 8. Celebrities write books. How is this utterly disappointing? "There are more books in the world! Oh no!"
Book publishing and book selling are businesses. If they sell 1 million Bieber books, maybe they can afford to publish a few little guys who would've otherwise gotten rejected. Welcome to capitalism.
And let's not forget that these people who we made famous deciding to sell books gives jobs to ghostwriters, who can then maybe afford to publish their own work. What's so bad about that?
and finally, the same argument I made for the Fifty Shades books applies here. If a little girl who would prefer to watch TV, who says she'd be embarassed to be caught reading, goes out and buys J Bieb's book and reads it and shares it with all her friends, how is that a bad thing? 

7. Book and E-book sales down 9.3% in US.
I am going to respond to this with a fact that my friend recently told me about. After the NSA scandal, sales of George Orwell's 1984 increased it from the 11, 855th best-selling book on Amazon, to the 100th. (source)
As my friend said, "I'll take that as a good art=life=art argument."
I'm not too worried about the future of books. Innovations like e-readers are helping books, not hurting them. 

6. Bookstores closing.
This seems to be mostly just an American thing. I really haven't heard too much buzz around big chain bookstores closing in Canada. According to this article, the closing of big bookstores have allowed the little guys to flourish and independent bookstores are doing well in the US.
I agree that bookstores closing is disappointing, but the very article that Buzzfeed sources is called "Barnes & Noble is in trouble but bookstores aren't doomed just yet" which strikes me as hopeful, not disappointing. 

5. Ebook sales top paper book sales.
Related: DVD sales top VHS sales. People are still buying movies to watch at home, just in a different format. 

4. Forks has Twilight stuff.
so what? This isn't a new phenomenon. PEI is loaded with Anne of Green Gables stuff, including the actual Green Gables which people can tour, and a fake Avonlea village with actors playing the characters from the book. Another example is the Wonderful Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
For lots of people (especially kids) these kinds of things are a way to get excited about the books, bring the stories to life, and celebrate the love of a book. 

3. Twilight is popular. 
see Fifty Shades of Grey argument. 

2. Books are being used to make crafts.
The trashy article this photo is from talks about how Lauren Conrad (the woman in the photo) took down the video of herself destroying books to make a craft because of backlash. She admitted her mistake. The article even says, "Nice to know that books are still sorta sacred." 

1. 1 in 4 Americans said they read 0 books in the past year. 
That's 25%. According to this site, 14% of American adults are illiterate. As for the other 11%, ...not to bash America, but here are some statistics from here.
"- Canadians' reading rate remained virtually constant over the past two decades, while Americans' declined. - Where 87% of Canadians read a book in a 12-month time frame, 57% of Americans had.
- Where 79% of Canadians read literary materials in a 12-month time frame, 47% of Americans had.
- Where one-half of Canadians read virtually every day, almost half of Americans read an average of less than one book per year."

Now for my own list.

13 Utterly Uplifting Facts about Reading

13. In the UK, 66% of people read in their free time. (source) 43% of Canadians say they enjoy reading very much. (source)

12. Shakespeare's First Folio's original price was 1 pound (around $220.) In 2010 it was valued at 15 million euros (around $20,477,370.) So...yeah...people value books more now. (source)

11. Libraries! Beautiful libraries! (Seriously, look at them. So pretty.)

10. The Shakespeare and Company Bookstore in Paris has been in business since 1951. It is named after the original Shakespeare and Company bookstore which opened in 1919 and closed in 1940 during the war. It's been open for over 60 years! And it sells English books in a French-speaking country. So..maybe all those bookstores closing in the US aren't doing it right? (source)

9. E-books helped book sales increase 6.2% last year in the US. (source)

8. Self-published books and e-books have increased by 287% since 2006. (source)

7. People in the book business are adapting to change! Last year, the New York Times changed the format of their bestseller lists to separate Children's books and Young Adult books, and to include sales of e-books. (source)

(If Buzzfeed can have three points about the same thing, so can I.)

6. Sales of The Life of Pi increased after the release of the film. (source)

5. Sales of The Hunger Games increased after the release of the film. (source)

4. Sales of The Great Gatsby increased after the release of the film. (source)
(Take that, Buzzfeed, with your TV. vs. books battle. People can like both!)

3. A couple of weeks ago, a 13-year-old girl said to me, "I used to hate reading! Now I love it! What happened?"

2. Similarily, when I recommended a book to my class of 18 students, 1/3 of them borrowed it from me, the library, or went out and bought their own copy,  and read the entire series, and a few of them lent the books to their parents and siblings.

and finally

1. This is a list of books that have been banned by governments, the American Library Association, and other organizations. The list includes many classics, bestsellers, and books that appear on school curriculums, which just goes to show: haters gonna hate, readers gonna read. 

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