Next Generation of Readers Aren’t Readers

Amazon’s new Kindle electronic book reader has the potential to transform how we read and interact with “the printed page.” But maybe this revolutionary (or evolutionary) product will do little to stem the tide of the next generations’ lack of interest in reading.

The National Endowment of the Arts reports that the average 15-to-24 year old spends seven minutes daily on voluntary reading, though it rises to a whopping 10 minutes on weekends.

Twenty-Somethings and younger do not act like the rest of us. They do not buy record albums, favoring iPods with low-bit rate .mp3 songs. The do not read books, they read online reviews of Halo 3. They do not change their car’s oil, but they fill their screen savers with monster trucks. They do not wear neckties, woops, I digress.

This reminds me of those endless discussions of car values that invariably focus on vehicles and not the key influencer of values: the consumer. So Hemi Challengers have tanked in value. Why? Have they become radioactive? No, the market has changed. Overstimulated demand chased too few vehicles and now the bloom is off the rose.

So to with the web’s impact on print. It’s not about your magazine or your competitor’s website. A magazine may enjoy a strong readership and healthy renewals, but customer demographics will determine how long that ride will last. Publications catering to a bazillion Model T geezers with rotary phones will wake up one day to an empty page. Web-enabled car buyers are not trolling newsstands for the New Car Buyer’s Guide Annual opting instead for free online reviews. And so it goes.

So is reading dead? You tell me?

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