The National Endowment for the Arts is releasing a report today that shows the number of adult readers of novels, short stories, poems, and plays has increased rather than declined. In 2002, it was at 46.7 percent. In 2008, the new number is 50.2 percent. More info at The Washington Post.
The report isn’t all good news. The percentage of people who report reading any book at all not required for work or school has declined. Yet it’s good to see a positive outlook on some aspect of the current state of reading. I’m guessing the numbers are up for people reading fiction and poetry because of the efforts of reading initiatives like The Big Read, and all those who work in the literary world or lit bloggers who try to spread the word about books.
The NEA’s previous report, “Reading at Risk”, was one of the reasons my co-worker and I launched a 24-hour Read-A-Thon national event in 2008, with the help of Jenn Northington of King’s English.
It’s really nice to see one positive piece of information amidst a lot of doom and gloom talk about the economy and publishing. I’m continuing to be an optimist. Young readers/booksellers/publishers/publicists/editors/book reviewers are the ones who ESPECIALLY have to be hopeful about the future of reading and publishing, and keep fighting the good fight, one page at a time (or several, if you’re a fast reader!)