There is some concern in the publishing industry about the fact that every year there are fewer readers in this country. We all know why, and I'm not here to argue that it's wrong, wrong, wrong, even though it is.

The question is what can build interest in reading? Those factors need to be cultivated. For one thing, there's the popularity of certain books among young people. Once a kid has developed an interest in Potter or Goosebumps or Chillermania, chances are he will understand the joys of reading and continue to read.

Second, there's the variety of reading choices available. Anyone, young or old, who says he can't find anything good to read isn't paying attention. Libraries are more user-friendly than ever, schools bend over backward to make reading a pleasant priority, and even used bookstores, which some authors hate, make books economically accessible to the masses.

Reading is a skill, and like other skills, it must be practiced. The more people read, the more they tend to enjoy reading. Interest creates incentive; then the process of actaully reading improves a reader's skill level, improving the three basics of reading: speed, vocabulary, and comprehension. As interest spurs reading those skills are practiced, and practice makes...maybe not perfect, but better. Thus, interest and ability come together and encourage more reading.

So what can we do to create readers? Talk to people about reading. Let people know what you read and why. Loan out your books if that isn't too traumatic for you. I've had many people read a book simply because I recommended it and then offered it to them. They might never have gone out and found it on their own, but they usually enjoy the experience when someone says, "Read this. I think you'll like it."

Young people in particular need to hear others talk about reading and the enjoyment it brings. They may have had bad experiences with the Dreaded Book Report. Often they have no acquaintance with people who read. As an educator, I can't tell you how many times over the years students told me, "I'd never read a book before, but I really liked this one." A big reason for this was because my book reports were individualized. Students chose from a loooooong list I'd compiled of books I've read, and we discussed them in some depth before settling on one. When they finished the book we talked about it at some length, one-on-one, so that they experienced the pleasure of discussing a shared experience. (I must admit there were humorous times when some tried to fake their way through, but that's a subject for another day.)

You can't just say to a person, "You should read more." It's a little like fishing; you have to bait the hook attractively by recommending something that appeals to that individual. Then it helps to provide some debriefing, a chance to talk about what the reader felt, good or bad.

My husband started reading for enjoyment at middle age. At first he read only one type of book, but I made every effort to find as many of his preferred genre as I could. Gradually he has expanded his horizons, and we're now at the point of exchanging reading material: he recommends books to me as often as I recommend to him.

I gotta tell you: there's not much that's more satisfying to a writer than recruiting new members into the fold of the Reading Public.

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Comment by Krystal Waters on October 31, 2007 at 11:46pm
I am doing self promoting, as well as trying to get an endorser who will endorse books but also bands and other people. Books will become a cool thing soon. It was an idea I came up with in trying to figure out, how am I going to get my book to sell.

I think that book industry has become stale because of games, videos, tv... ect.. but if you get a good book, you can't put it down. I have proof! My daughter likes anime, draws anime and so she is reading a lot of Japanese books by the load full! We are at Barnes and Nobles almost every weekend.

Cator to what the public wants. Ask people what type of genre they read, give some type of poll to go by and run with it.

When I was a kid I would read all the time. There were certain books, mostly fantasy that would ultimately get me enchanted into the finish. Than I would read it over again, because my parents wouldn't buy me any books.

So than, I began to make my own books, being creative. OK, crayons can only go so far but it was cool than. Childrens books should have interaction, coloring, imagination, young adults should have issues of girl boys things... dating, fantasy, a little horror but I wouldn't suggest the real hardcore horror!

Adults, they are finicky. To drag them to read and keep their eyes of the TV you have to find out what they like. I know a lot of women like to read romance and men like sci fi. But there is a load of different types of books and we have to break it open and do more marketing.

Now that is what I am talking about. I don't think publishers do enough marketing. How is someone suppose to know that a book is out there, or a new author that they may like is writing some good books if nobody tells them? Readers want entertainment but they are also lazy. Market, market, market!!!

Also, books on tape is getting popular. But we have to move with what the readers are doing and interests. There are plenty of books... and again, I stress... MARKET the heck out of your book.

ok... I think I said enough. lol
Comment by mike D on October 31, 2007 at 11:29pm
I couldnt agree more. I have two sons, the youngest was taught that reading was fun while in kindergarten, while my oldest didnt start reading books on his own until this year, and he is ten! The teachers at the youngest ages really have an impact, and we were lucky that the little guy had an excellent teacher. Now they both read, the youngest quite a bit more than the oldest, but they share books (my 8yr old is reading at an 11 yr old level), and talk about books and stories now. It doesnt hurt that I read constantly, and my wife has started reading more than she did before. We have instilled in them a love of books, and a love of reading new things.

Also, when I find an author, or books I like, I am a walking commercial. At work, I tell everyone, especially when they see me reading and ask about the book...I had just finished reading JA Konraths latest when I was in BnN looking for the next group of books to read, a lady was wondering around that section, I recommended his books to her, and next thing you know they bought the whole lot of his books from the shelf because it was a book club and they were looking for a new author....I felt pretty good about that.

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