“Nobody Likes To Read” – Meg Benjamin

So I’m driving around one day listening to Terry Gross on Fresh Air, one of my favorite NPR shows. She’s interviewing this guy whose name escapes me. He’s a big-time literary fiction author, and he’s just done Something Really Daring—he made a trailer for his latest book. Terry asked him why and his answer was, “Well, nobody likes to read these days, so you have to reach them with other things.”

I, of course, was sort of amazed to hear that. Nobody likes to read? Really? That’s not the way I hear it over here in Romanceland. A lot of romance readers are really voracious. I read a couple of books a week myself depending on length, and I know others who read four or five. And lots of us have huge To Be Read piles made up of books we’ve heard about and bought and are now trying to find time to read. So where exactly is Mr. Serious Writer getting this idea that nobody likes to read anymore?

What he really means, I think, is that nobody likes to read the kind of fiction he and his fellow lit fic writers are putting out. Even that’s a gross exaggeration, of course, as the New York Times bestseller lists will attest. However, what really frosts me about all of this is that Mr. Serious Writer probably didn’t even think about romance readers and writers when he made that statement. To the serious literary world, we don’t exist. And the fact that we buy a lot of books, read a lot of books, and write a lot of books is irrelevant to their argument. Readers only count if they read a certain kind of literature. If they don’t, they’re not really reading.

So here’s what I’d like to say to Mr. Literary Fiction, if I had the chance. Okay, buddy, let’s get something straight. We do read. We like to read. Not only that, but we’re responsible for the popularity of a lot of innovations that are currently keeping you and your pals above water, including book trailers. Granted, our book trailers don’t star James Franco, the way yours does, but we’re the ones who made book trailers popular. Moreover, we’re among the ones who helped establish the popularity of ebooks and ebook readers. If you and your crew are smart, you’ll hop onto that bandwagon next, followed, I suspect, by self-pubbing. You and your friends will undoubtedly go on ignoring us and our contribution to the current revolution in publishing, but at least you need to acknowledge we’re out here.

Not that anything I say is likely to make much difference on this topic. No, if the number of readers of this guy’s books continues to decline, he’ll undoubtedly decide that books have simply ceased to matter to the general public. After all, nobody likes to read. Nora Robert? Who’s she?


5 responses to ““Nobody Likes To Read” – Meg Benjamin

  1. I agree, It probably is the genre he writes in. Not to say that he is not a good writer, just I believe Romance brings a bit of “believable” fantasy into the picture, after all everyone wants Love! Great Post!

  2. I don’t know why, but it always amazes me when someone pubbed by the Big 6 can’t seem to get along with the other kids on the playground. The old axiom “why can’t we all just get along?” may be cliche but it’s very appropriate here. The industry should be about the writing, and telling the story, and entertaining. Not everyone will like every published book. That’s the beauty of having so many authors and genre. We have choices. The way we have choices about the TV shows we watch or the movies we see. But this industry should be about supporting one another, not competing. Until I joined the published arena, I had no idea of the class separations between genre. I “get” it between NYC and e-pub. NYC has been every author’s dream since they picked up a pen. But even that is changing…and fast. As for Mr. Book Trailer Maker because “people don’t like to read anymore?” Ouch. Harsh. If I was a fan before he said that, I’m not sure I would be after I heard it.

  3. I personally love to read. Even though, when my kids and schedule don’t allow it, I often find myself listening to a book on tape, I still love to read tree books and ebooks as often as I can.

  4. I hear that from students, “I don’t like to read,” then get them excited with readings they really like. We need to realize reading a sports column is reading, not just books. But once we start reading something we like, we can find more and more of it, and read as much as we can.

  5. I love to read, and I read as often as I can. I read mainly in the genre I write–paranormal romance–but I also like to venture out once in awhile and read of other genres.
    I’ve heard too that people don’t read–they don’t have time to read, and I don’t believe that for a second!
    LOL, how many times did I write the word read in this post? Seven, hehehehe.

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