Wednesday, May 09, 2007

An Overabundance of Books?


Over at Design Observer, Alice Twemlow comments on an interesting (and a bit scary) observation of Mexican critic Garbriel Zaid's:
"According to the Mexican critic Gabriel Zaid, writing in So Many Books: Reading and Publishing in an Age of Abundance, the human race publishes a book every 30 seconds. If current trends continue, by 2052 the number of people writing and publishing a book in a given year will exceed the number of people who will read one."
The more I think about this, the more I have to believe that Zaid is very likely correct. The number of readers in the world may have already reached its plateau or it may even be declining; it all depends on how the latest statistics are spun. At the same time, the number of books being published every year continues to grow, a trend that, as a reader, makes me smile. But what happens when there are more writers than readers in the world? Oh well, I suppose we can all read each other's books...

11 comments:

  1. I have to admit, my first thought was, "Does that mean I have a better chance of having a book published?" Of course I would have to write one first.

    This is interesting to think about, but I want to know how they determine the number of readers. Seems like that would be very difficult.

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  2. I suppose that the number of readers is established through the usual kind of statistical analysis based on surveys and polls, etc. I'm constantly surprised by the fact that so few people that we know consider themselves to be readers. Some haven't read a book in years, others read only the most currently popular trash, and others are lucky to read four or five books a year (and they consider themselves to be readers...guess they are in a relative sense, at that).

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  3. I just want to lie and wallow in that huge pile of books...

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  4. My concern is that with the number of books being published, it becomes harder and harder to weed out the good ones.

    Although, as Matt said, maybe I have a chance at getting my books published! ;-)

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  5. Looks like we all better get busy if we're going to get published by 2052...I'll only be 104 years old then so I'll hope it's not going to be my first book. :-)

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  6. ''I'm constantly surprised by the fact that so few people that we know consider themselves to be readers''.................When I was 6 years old in junior school I visited a schoolfriend who was ill at home. He had asked me to get him a couple of books from the library. I remember being deeply shocked when he told me his parents did not have a single, solitary book in the house. I think there are a lot more of these bookless households than we realise.

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  7. I suppose that I shouldn't find it shocking anymore to go into a home and not see a single book on the shelves but it still gets me. I know people who haven't read a book in years...they say that all the reading they do at work burns them out. I don't think they have any idea of what they are missing.

    It's a statistical fact that a relatively small percentage of the population buys most of the books sold in the world.

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  8. Sam...what really gets to me is some people seem almost PROUD of the fact they never read a book! Weird.

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  9. There are many kinds of false pride, Nick, and I think that the one you describe is one of the saddest of them all.

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  10. I love the book photo. Bybee and I are going to be fighting over wallowing space :)

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