I suspect that people read less nowadays then they used to. Obviously I have no scientific evidence for this at all, but I think its probably common sense. When Charlotte Bronte was penning her stories up in Howarth her other options for entertainment were housework or painting (or maybe polishing the church pews!) so writing and reading would have been all she had to do.
Nowadays of course, we not only have tv and radio, but computers, the internet, games consoles, mobile phones the list goes on. I read somewhere recently that nowadays people go for months without hand writing anything. This means that soon adults will forget how to write completely and will only be able to type. I think it’s hard not to argue that tv and social media has had a massive effect on reading as well and definitely its had a negative effect on peoples ability to concentrate.
TV shows tend to treat us as though we have the attention span of a half dead goldfish. I recently watched an hours show about criminal psychology on Channel 5 (I know, it’s the red top of the terrestrial tv world) It started by telling us what they were going to show in the programme, then we had 10 minutes of actual show, before we got ‘Coming up…’ Then of course we had the first of 3 ad breaks (all over 3 minutes long) Then back to the show which spent 5 minutes telling us what we’d seen before the ad break, just in case we’d forgotten in the space of those 3 minutes.
This went on for the entire show. I imagine if you added it up (which I may try shortly) you would probably only get about 30 minutes of unique material in the whole hour.
This is why I think people no longer read books. Unless they can actually sit and read them in a whole session (Do they still make Dick and Jane books?) then people forget what they’ve read the following day. They are so used to having everything repeated and repeated that without someone going – ‘Welcome to chapter 2, in Chapter 1 we found out…’ – they can’t remember what happened.
Maybe this could be a new business idea? In a recent conversation with a friend she pointed out that my ability to read very fast is a great attribute. Maybe I could use that to start a whole new series of books. I’ll read a book and then turn it into the equivalent of a channel 5 documentary with a few pages at the beginning of each chapter summarizing what you are about to read, and a few pages at the end of each one saying what is about to happen in the next one. Of course this will definitely have to only be available as kindle editions – can you imagine the size of a Mark Billingham novel if you did this?
It could be a winner though and yet another great reason for owning a kindle. I’m off to contact Amazon now (This idea is copyright of acrimereadersblog…)