Paula Hendricks

Author ~:~ Writer ~:~ Book Designer ~:~ Book Producer

Our President-Elect reads books

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It matters to those of us in the book world that people read, or don’t read, books. We have all read the sad statistics* about books and reading, such as:

  • 58% of US adult population never reads another book after high school
  • 80% of US families did not buy or read a book last year
  • 42% of college graduates never read another book
  • 33$ of high school graduates never read another book
  • 57% of new books are not read to completion

And yet… our president-elect, Barack Obama, reads books. And there is a great picture of him (http://papercuts.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/05/21/what-obama-is-reading/) at the airport in Bozeman Montana – he has his finger in a book to mark his place. What a great image!

Why does this matter to us?

Books are important. Books are about ideas and about communicating ideas. Some have called Obama brilliant, curious, and prepared. I believe books are part of who he is and who he has become. Reading is a critical act and helps train our brains to be critical as well. Words allow our minds to imagine things as we read, where pictures and TV and videos can often limit this activity.

It matters because the president leads us by example. Others will copy him. More people will read books because he does. The fact that he reads books and talks about what he reads and his staff talks about what he reads makes me believe that the statistics about reading books may well rise over the next few years. They may even rise in our poorer communities. He even admits he reads books more than once. This has to be good for everyone in the book world.

There also seems to be a book bubble right now. I see books by the left and the right and everything in between – by reporters and professors and intellectuals.

It’s good to know many are reading books and that books seem to be in the news more now. But, in some ways this doesn’t really affect us. We still need to go through the steps of publishing – making sure our books are written, edited, designed, and produced professionally. And to succeed, we need to market our books and our authors well.

But what it does do that helps us is perhaps give us confidence that we are moving into a time when books matter, when ideas matter, when thoughtful consideration of issues matters. This is true no matter your point of view. And this is true for fiction as well as non-fiction. I find myself interested in what progressives and economists and conservatives have to say. I find my brain lighting up with all these points of view and this sense, this deep sense, that all these words printed on pages matter and I am at a feast.

What a great time to be in the book business!

* Sources for statistics about books, the book industry and reading:

http://www.parapublishing.com/sites/para/resources/statistics.cfm

http://www.bookpublishing.com

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Written by phwebnet

November 30, 2008 at 9:11 pm

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