Demographics have long been morose territory for publishers, its figures serving only to highlight the burgeoning numbers of airheads in our midst. Statisticians have agreed with me. Only heretofore though.
I must say I had long felt the upheaval. At last, someone got to formalize such cultural moment in a report. As we speak, it’s safe to say the decline in reading has been stymied.
Last Monday, the National Endowment for the Arts in the US declared “Reading on the Rise,” the polar foil to its previous report, “Reading at Risk.” Surveying American readers in 2002, the latter had almost written off literary reading by swearing only 46.7 percent of the respondents read. Now the same agency is telling me literary readers have spiked to 50.2 percent in 2008.
Overshooting expectations, adults aged 18-24 registered the heftiest part, 40 percent, of all this growth. These figures tip off just how many in a sample of American adults have read any novel, short story, play, or poem in the past year. The survey doesn’t give a fig if the novel was Wuthering Heights or Nancy Drew, nor does it care about the number of reading materials.
Outgoing NEA chairman Dana Gioia partly ascribes growth to the concerted efforts of teachers, librarians, and civic leaders to get every American reading. Likewise, Gioia prides himself in NEA’s initiative called “The Big Read,” which encouraged Americans to read specific books, such as F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby.
He also cites J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books and—drum roll—Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight series.
I knew it.
Once I was such a hater, but now I’ve wheedled myself to be more forbearing of the overrated vampire saga. The way I see it, adolescents are so much the better for reading anything.
In the 12 months covered by the survey, Stephenie Meyer quickly emerged among the nation’s bestselling writers. By year’s end, her vampire saga, composed of the books Twilight, New Moon, Eclipse, and Breaking Dawn, sold 15 million copies. The survey also coincided with the release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the fastest-selling book of all time.
Ever since Harry Potter flew on his broom, the young-adult sector has irrefutably been on every publisher’s radar. One of Canada’s largest, D&M Publishers, may steer itself more into that course.
Since 1971, D&M has published more than 2,000 titles from Canadian prodigies, like David Suzuki, Thomas L. Friedman, and Douglas Coupland. For its print ad campaign, Rethink liberally draws on subtlety in this universal call to arms to reading. This is the one come-hither advertising autonomous of a punchy copy, its gooey undercurrent highly electric enough to isolate itself: Reading is power.
Advertising Agency: Rethink, Vancouver, Canada
Creative Directors: Ian Grais, Chris Staples
Art Director: Carson TIng
Copywriter: Katie Ainsworth
Photographer: Pete Soos
Print Producers: Jim Leith, Shelley Stevens
Studio Artists: Justin Renvoize, Tom Pettapiece
Account Manager: Cameron Walker