Readers are evaporating. They’re like dew at sunrise. Sucked into the ether, never to be seen again. How we lament their demise these days. Like an animal on the verge of extinction. I’ve read several very interesting articles recently which indicated to me that the subject is far-reaching and alarming. I wouldn’t go so far as to say dire, because I like to stay positive. It will, however, take steps from the community to turn the tide of these mysterious disappearing readers. This might help, in the long run, to save the writers, their main predator (wait, did I say that out loud?).
Writers can no longer live from their words alone. Masters of the written word are forced to survive working day jobs to be able to afford their passion. The novel is a dying art, and we shall soon be forced to bury it. Or so we are told.
This article is written for authors, writers, and murderers of the written word, but I think anyone can pull out their two cents from the stack of pennies. Something for everyone, is what I’m getting at.
Now, as an aside, I’m not laying blame at anyone’s feet. There’s a natural progression to the way the world works, and it’s only by putting up our own stop-gap programs or changing the course of things that we can make a difference. As well, I can’t say which of the following aspects is the most responsible, only that it’s an accumulation of various aspects, in my mind, which hold sway. So, the way I see it, I’m not pointing fingers and screaming: “You did this!” I am merely describing the processes which have led to our present point.
As authors, we require our opposite, the readers, obviously. Now, there are still many. Millions, in fact. One of the problems these people face, however, is an embarassment of riches. Since self-publishing has taken on legitimacy, the gatekeepers of traditional publishing have had to, grudgingly, let go of the reins of who could publish what, when. Don’t get me wrong! I love self-publishing, as I am a self-published author myself. However, this does bring on the problem of an overabundance of competition. More writers means less concentration of wealth, even though it means an increase in opportunity.
People like to point at Amazon as the big, bad, bogeyman. They’ve taken books and made them cheap. I have to admit that people selling their books for $1.99 does make me scratch my head. Sure there are no overheads with ebooks, but why are we selling ourselves short? Are our stories worth so little? If we truly wanted to make better money, we’d get together and agree not to sell under a certain threshhold. That in itself would help a lot of people make a few more dollars.
There is also the other thing. The elephant in the room. People just don’t read as they used to. It’s true! Why would you want to sit around reading something so time-consuming when you can fill up on TV, Movies, internet, I Pad games, phone apps, and the list goes on, in an instant? We need things now, immediately. Reading is boring, and takes an eternity. If you knew how many times I’ve been told by people that they hated reading, you’d cry. I know I did a little bit. In my heart.
This is a societal problem. If we want to survive as authors, writers and poets, it is our duty to enthrall the next generation of readers. We have to take it upon ourselves to go out and read to kids. As the Atlantic explains, there is hope for the next generation. We need to teach them patience, because you need that quality to become a reader. It is imperative to have them reading things that are amazing (to them) in school. Engage with those who will come after us, so that they will want to be readers and writers. If we sit back and complain that all the future readers are stuck to video games yet do nothing about it, we are to blame. And this is the part that writers are not good at: action. We have to take action, however, or else we keep losing readers, and if that happens, we also lose potential good writers, whether present or future.
All the worlds are stories. Who will know, though, if we forget how to tell them?