Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Who Says People Aren't Reading Anymore?

One of the blogs that I visit periodically is Reading Ahead, which is the blog of the National Book Foundation.

"
The blog’s purpose is to gather information and ideas in various fields that are having, or will have, an impact on literary reading: the sociology of (literary) reading, the neuroscience of (literary) reading, the marketing of literary work, delivery systems, educational approaches, and innovative projects that cultivate a passion for literature."

A visit to this blog this morning took me to an interesting site. We've all heard the discussions and debates regarding the supposed decline in reading, especially in the U. S. Often, what hasn't been taken into account are the 'new' ways of reading that take place every day -- such as reading book blogs.The Palo Alta Research Center (PARC), which is known for developing new technology currently has an exhibit that focuses on the future of reading. Now, I'll be the first to admit, that I'm pretty skeptical about reading technology. I have no desire for a Kindle, and I've only attempted to listen to an audio book once. I didn't get through it. But, please don't get the wrong idea. I'm not technology averse. I just prefer reading an actual printed book that I can hold in my hands. For me, the physical object can be almost as important as the words it contains. But, this new exhibit is really exciting if for no other reason than the fact that money is being spent on research that deals with reading. There is a wide range here, but all the new technology deals with the ways in which people interact with text and reading in some way. For example, The Listen Reader and The Reading Eye Dog could be utilized to help people with sight impairment. In addition, there are a few other exhibits that are quite interesting, such as The Tilty Tables and the Speeder Reader. Even if I never utilize any of these products or some of them don't even make it to the market place, it does my heart good to know that serious research is being conducted in the art and science of reading.

9 comments:

Literary Feline said...

I am glad too that attention is being given to this area. Thanks for the informative blog post!

Carl V. said...

I am generally skeptical of all statistics anyway because we've all seen how they can be manipulated and used to support whatever belief one wants to apply them to. I've said often that my frequent visits to bookstores always find them full of people perusing books and I almost always have to wait in a line to purchase stuff. I am more apt to believe that there is a glut of book publishing and because of the number of books being produced that there is an argument that can be made that publishers are losing money. That doesn't necessarily mean that less books are being bought or read. It just means they aren't making the profits they may have when so many books weren't all coming out in a year.

Lisa said...

literary feline, it's nice that money is being spent on something important for a change! :)

carl, I hadn't really thought about the skewing of the numbers because of the glut of publishing, but it makes sense. I work in an academic library, and we always have people wanting to check out something to read 'for fun' after all of their academic reading gets to be too much.

LisaMM said...

Great post! I'm with you about the Kindle.. although having recently read some very positive reviews on it, I may change my mind.

Lisa said...

lisamm, I know I've heard really good things about it, too. I just don't know...

Dorothy W. said...

I'm curious about that research into new ways of reading too -- I think people ARE reading in new ways, but I'm not sure they are reading in quite the same way. Reading on the computer may be fundamentally different than reading a book. It'll be interesting to see what research shows.

Lisa said...

dorothy, I agree that it is a different type of reading. For me, as I imagine for most people, I do a lot of reading online, but it's in small chunks. I can't imagine reading a 'book' online. I'm just glad that researchers are spending time and money looking at reading.

Heather said...

Great post. I agree with you about the pleasure of actually reading a book and holding it in my hands. Carl makes a good point - I've never been in an empty bookstore and the two or three times I can recall not having to wait in line were times of celebration and me doing a mental dance with childlike glee that I walked faster than the people who were suddenly all lined up behind me!

Lisa said...

heather, not only are there usually lines in the bookstores, but my local library is never empty.