• Mark Meier

Reading Resurgence?

Do you think more people will take up reading because of Covid-19? Entire nations are telling their people to stay home in an effort to slow the spread of the virus, so I was wondering what impact that will have on people’s reading habits.


Personally, I believe any trend upward in the graph of Pages Read will be slight and short-lived. There are too many distractions so easily available that the decline will only be paused - at best.


Online streaming services will probably have increased traffic. Video games will be played, and many gaming systems have interaction between players. Maybe that is only audio, but I’m guessing there’s video of other players too. I haven’t played in so long I don’t really know.


For me, watching movies and shows only holds my attention for so long. Maybe I can blame my wife. She taught me to crochet, and now simply watching TV gets boring pretty quickly. There are shows with quick action and visual bits to the plot line that require viewing, but for the most part it doesn’t take much actual watching once the characters are solidified in my mind.


Reading involves a lot more than simply watching and listening. My imagination is triggered to visualize things in ways similar to what radio used to do back in the days of The Shadow, Mystery Theater, and the like. Once TV took away the need for imagination those kinds of shows quickly disappeared.


That’s when I think reading saw the first hints of decline. Remember when people stayed home for supper and went out to the movies? Then it switched: “Let’s go out for supper and come home for a movie.”


This month will probably be miserable for the movie industry. They’re rescheduling release dates for big-budget movies because Covid-19 will hurt opening weekend sales. Hype from big box office sales that first weekend can make or break the profitability of a feature.


Books can be the same way. A new book from Glory Hound hits the stands, and if nobody buys it that first week there’s not enough hype to get it on the best seller lists. Then Glory Hound gets panned, and sales will drop further because, “I don’t want to be seen reading that stinker of a book!”


By the way, that’s the purpose of the “pre-sale” buttons on those book seller web sites. If that’s put up three weeks before the book’s release, all those sales register on the first day the book is officially available. It creates hype, then everybody Must. Read. That. Book. Which creates more hype, and so on.


So I don’t think the virus is going to make more people read a significant number of pages. They’ll watch their videos, play their games, visit their friends via video chat services, and leave that book languishing on the stack of others grandma gave them for Christmas.


“Reading books is so last century!”



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