Monday, August 3, 2009

North Americans Don't Read?

That was an 'arguement' in one of the writing forums I frequent, as an explanation of why some poorly written books do well.

Non Sequiter much? Besides being not true?

Were that actually the case, there would be few bookstores, and certainly no large chains. The other 'basis' for this arguement were that people only read bestsellers, and they only read those to appear informed on whatever is popular at the time.

Purple monkey dishwasher??? (Simpsons reference)

Did it not occur to this person that the 'bestseller' label comes AFTER selling oodles of copies? So who were the tens of thousands who bought the book before it became popular? Couldn't have been all those non readers following trends.

Yes, some poorly written books have flash in the pan wild success. Some wonderful books languish in obscurity - but most often, those truly good books have something the others don't:

Staying power. They sit patiently on the shelves, in print year after year, growing followers and appreciation.

Which would I rather have?

I can't deny the attraction of insta-fame and money. Ideally, both. But what I'd honestly rather have, is a growing career. Well written books that trickle through society, staying in print for decades due to regular demand. Fans that will buy the next book, and the next one.

But that doesn't happen, because Americans don't read. Hear that, Umberto Eco? How about Peter S. Beagle? You guys CAN'T exist, those sturdy, eternally popular writers - because no one reads what they don't hear about on tv.


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