PictureBoth men and women enjoy nonfiction.
MarketWatch recently trumpeted this headline: "The huge difference between what men and women read." You can always get readers to open an article about the differences between men and women - after all, I did - because apparently we have not yet figured out what they are.

There are, as I have long suspected, differences between men and women.

According the the National Endowment of the Arts, men are more likely to read nonfiction books than fiction, while the opposite holds true for women: 55% of women read fiction in 2012, and 48% read nonfiction.

The real news here is not that 7% more women read fiction than nonfiction, or that more women than men read fiction.  It is the steady decline in the total fiction-reading population.

The waning literary leanings of American adults

Year           Percentage of adults who read fiction

1982           56.40%

1992           54.20%

2002           46.60%

2008           50.20%

2012           46.90%

A ten point drop may not appear to be much, but in sheer numbers it represents a LOT of people. (Someone else will have to do the math, But given an adult population of roughly 230 million, I am sure it's more than, say, a hundred.)

The huge difference between what men and women read

MarketWatch, Published: Jan 29, 2015 3:25 p.m. ET

Most Americans don’t read fiction, but the residents of some U.S. states are far bigger bookworms than others.

The number of adults who read at least one novel, play or poem within the past 12 months fell to 47% in 2012 from 50% in 2008, according to a new survey of over 37,000 Americans, “A Decade of Arts Engagement,” by the National Endowment for the Arts, a government agency that promotes artistic excellence.

Fiction reading rose from 2002 to 2008, but has been dropping ever since — and is now back to 2002 levels. By comparison, 30 years ago 56% of Americans read fiction. The decline in fiction reading last year occurred mostly among white Americans, including women and men of various educational backgrounds; rates held steady among non-white and Hispanic groups, the report found.

Men are more likely to read nonfiction books than fiction, while the opposite holds true for women: 55% of women read fiction in 2012, and 48% read nonfiction, according to an update of a previous NEA report released in 2013. Young adults are more likely to read fiction than nonfiction books, whereas the oldest Americans (aged 75 and older) are more likely to read nonfiction books, the NEA found. Literary reading varied widely from state-to-state: It was 63% in Washington state, far above the national average, and 56% in Colorado, Rhode Island and Connecticut, but just 34% in Alabama, 36% in Virginia and 37% in Nevada.

Read more here...

"Iceland is experiencing a book boom. This island nation of just over 300,000 people has more writers, more books published and more books read, per head, than anywhere else in the world."

Personally, I love the idea of park benches equipped with barcodes so people can listen to a book as they sit.

Iceland: Where one in 10 people will publish a book

By Rosie Goldsmith, BBC News Magazine

It is hard to avoid writers in Reykjavik. There is a phrase in Icelandic, "ad ganga med bok I maganum", everyone gives birth to a book. Literally, everyone "has a book in their stomach". One in 10 Icelanders will publish one.

"Does it get rather competitive?" I ask the young novelist, Kristin Eirikskdottir. "Yes. Especially as I live with my mother and partner, who are also full-time writers. But we try to publish in alternate years so we do not compete too much."

Special saga tours - saga as in story, that is, not over-50s holidays - show us story-plaques on public buildings.

Dating from the 13th Century, Icelandic sagas tell the stories of the country's Norse settlers, who began to arrive on the island in the late 9th Century.

Sagas are written on napkins and coffee cups. Each geyser and waterfall we visit has a tale of ancient heroes and heroines attached. Our guide stands up mid-tour to recite his own poetry - our taxi driver's father and grandfather write biographies.

Public benches have barcodes so you listen to a story on your smartphone as you sit.

Read the rest of this fascinating article HERE.

Brain function 'boosted for days after reading a novel'

SourceThe Independent, December 28, 2013
By Tomas Jivanda

Being pulled into the world of a gripping novel can trigger actual, measurable changes in the brain that linger for at least five days after reading, scientists have said.

The new research, carried out at Emory University in the US, found that reading a good book may cause heightened connectivity in the brain and neurological changes that persist in a similar way to muscle memory.

The changes were registered in the left temporal cortex, an area of the brain associated with receptivity for language, as well as the the primary sensory motor region of the brain.

Neurons of this region have been associated with tricking the mind into thinking it is doing something it is not, a phenomenon known as grounded cognition - for example, just thinking about running, can activate the neurons associated with the physical act of running.

“The neural changes that we found associated with physical sensation and movement systems suggest that reading a novel can transport you into the body of the protagonist,” said neuroscientist Professor Gregory Berns, lead author of the study.

“We already knew that good stories can put you in someone else’s shoes in a figurative sense. Now we’re seeing that something may also be happening biologically.”

21 students took part in the study, with all participants reading the same book - Pompeii, a 2003 thriller by Robert Harris, which was chosen for its page turning plot.

“The story follows a protagonist, who is outside the city of Pompeii and notices steam and strange things happening around the volcano,” said Prof Berns. “It depicts true events in a fictional and dramatic way. It was important to us that the book had a strong narrative line.”

Over 19 days the students read a portion of the book in the evening then had fMRI scans the following morning. Once the book was finished, their brains were scanned for five days after.

The neurological changes were found to have continued for all the five days after finishing, proving that the impact was not just an immediate reaction but has a lasting influence.

“Even though the participants were not actually reading the novel while they were in the scanner, they retained this heightened connectivity,” added Prof Berns. “We call that a ‘shadow activity,’ almost like a muscle memory.”

Note: You can read the full study HERE.

This fascinating little article appeared a few days ago in USA Today. Among the more notable trends over the past two decades is an increase in fiction bestsellers. Why?

"People today are looking for escape...Fiction provides that. In the '90s and early 2000s, we were in a different economic time. People were living the dream, not just dreaming it. "

Other significant trends:
  • Erotica is now mainstream (apparently, people are dreaming of sex, not just living it)
  • An increase in translations (due, in large part, to a girl with a tattoo)
  • A decrease in bestselling self-help books (people would rather dream about sex)
  • An increase in children's and teen books (not just for kids anymore)

By Bob Minzesheimer and Anthony DeBarros , USA TODAY, October 30, 2013

What 20 years of best sellers say about what we read...

How has your reading changed in the past 20 years? From readers shopping in brick-and-mortar bookstores, to the dominance of game-changing online sellers, to a digital era of e-reading and instant delivery, the book industry has gone through monumental change. And USA TODAY has been there all along. Look through 20 years of best-selling books.

When USA TODAY began its Best-Selling Books list 20 years ago, J.K. Rowling was a struggling unknown writer teaching English in Portugal. Suzanne Collins was helping to write a children's TV show for Nickelodeon called Clarissa Explains It All.

And the word "Amazon" brought to mind a river in South America or a very tall woman.

A lot has changed in two decades.

Driven by Amazon.com, about half of all books are now bought online, a click away. More than 20% are downloaded. Some 40% of adults have e-readers, tablets or other devices to read e-books.

And Rowling and Collins? They have a combined total of 225 million copies in print of the books (10 in all) of their two series for children and teens, Harry Potter and The Hunger Games.

Two decades worth of data show what's changed — and what hasn't — since USA TODAY began tracking best sellers in October 1993.

The highlights from three distinct eras:

• Self-help and other advice titles were big during the first five years (1993-1998) when most books were bought in physical bookstores.

• Rowling triggered Dickens-like excitement about reading and demolished the conventional wisdom about children's books in the second era (1999-2008), when online sales grew.

• Since 2009, fiction (as a percentage of best sellers) has risen to all-time highs and erotica went mainstream as e-books became the fastest growing part of the market.

Read the rest of this article HERE.

In spite of protests from the inhabitants of Jurassic Park, it looks like ereaders are here to stay. A recent poll conducted for USA Today and Bookish, a website designed to help people find and buy books, found that 40% of adults — including 46% of those ages 18 to 39 — own an e-reader or a tablet. That's more than double the numbers of less than two years ago. (You can read the full article HERE.)

In a nutshell, twice as many people own an ereader, and three times as many own a tablet, as compared to two years ago.

The biggest demographic for ownership is, not surprisingly, between the ages of 18 and 49, almost half of whom own an ereader.
For this group, the number of books read on an ereader outstrips print books.
Also, not only are they reading more, they are talking about it on Facebook.
The poll asked a number of other interesting questions, including: What keeps you from reading more books? (Lack of time), and (big question!) For those using ereaders, what books are you reading more of? (In order of popularity: Sci-fi, mystery, romance, and nonfiction.)

Find out what factors play a role in their book selections HERE.
The burgeoning ebook market in Great Britain has found a home on Amazon. Kindle dominates the market, which is not surprising. It also isn't surprising that 61 percent of these books are free - meaning, they are self-published through Amazon's KDP Select program.

This is bad news for publishers trying to break into the ebook market. If two-thirds of the ebook reading public expect to read a book for free, how likely is it that they are going to shell out the type of money that publishers charge for ebooks?

It is both good and bad news for self-published writers. The good news is that readers are enthusiastically downloading self-published ebooks. The bad news is that they aren't paying for them.

79% of UK Consumers Use Kindle

Source: MediaBistro, September 13, 2013 10:34 AM

By Dianna Dilworth

Seventy percent of UK consumers use Amazon to download eBooks, according to a new report Ofcom and Kantar Media. According to the report, which looked at media consumption in the UK March-May 2013, Kindle dominated as the service used to download or access eBooks in the past three months. Apple held a very distant second place with 9 percent of UK consumers using it to download eBooks. A Google Search and eBooks.com tied for 4th and 5th place at 6 percent of consumers using these channels.

The report also examined the digital versus print downloads and revealed that during the three-month period, 58 percent of all books sold in the UK were print and 42 percent downloaded were eBooks. The study found that 61 percent of eBooks were free and only 39 percent cost money.

Eighty-three percent of these free eBooks were consumed legally and 17 percent were consumed illegally. Here is more from the report: “We estimate that 7 million e-books were consumed illegally online in the past three months – equating to 4% of all books (downloaded, accessed online, or bought in physical format)."