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Department of Non-News: A Quarter of Americans Don’t Read

While the AP’s story jumping off a recently conducted poll certainly sounds the doom and gloom alarm – oh gasp, one in four people in America don’t read! – and has now led to Association of American Publishers president Pat Schroeder to slam Conservatives who don’t read with an explanation that “The Karl Roves of the world have built a generation that just wants a couple slogans: ‘No, don’t raise my taxes, no new taxes,’” – the problem I have is a distinct lack of context. What percentage of Americans didn’t read in 1980, or 1960, or hell, 1900? A smaller one, no doubt, but has the decline truly been as precipitous as we think? And by “reading” is it book format, or can we count reading online, text messaging, IMs and other information-gathering techniques as reading?

Point is, if you’re going to bitch and moan about the declining readership, give me a framework. Or accept that we are by and large preaching to a converted audience for 99.99% of published books.

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