Soothsayers from McSweeney’s Internet Tendency issued a heartening report last week that’s worth a read (or a re-read if it’s been a rough Monday). According to a bunch of numbers they found while conducting research, the written word may be in better shape than the dour popular report holds:
In fact, almost all of the news is good, and most of it is very good. Book sales are up, way up, from twenty years ago. Young adult readership is far wider and deeper than ever before. Library membership and circulation is at all-time high. The good news goes on and on.
Evidence seems to suggest that even in spite of a global economic meltdown that threatened to turn the AA battery into the new 20 dollar bill and the emergence of the crowd-pleasing popular time sink Wikileaks, Americans are still buying books — lots of them (over 750 million!). This is a high figure. In fact, during 2010 “many millions more books sold than any other year” excepting the fleeting Golden Age of ’08 – ’09 during which book sales peaked.
Detractors will argue that yes, more books are being sold, but are they actually read, or just used as ballast in skittery cars? or sanded down to resemble Blu-ray Disc cases and used to pad lackluster collections in college dorm rooms? Only time and more invasive research methods will tell.