Thursday, November 08, 2007

another Ed Ass waxes poetic re: bitter old editors who make her sad because they don't embody the spirit of their profession

Galleycat posted this response to an anonymous editor's rant that no one under 40 reads anymore, and that's what's wrong with culture.

The editorial assistant who replied said a bunch of things that are and have been true in my experience:

1) she's under 40 and reads all the time
2) she reads less now than the 3-5 books a week she used to manage before she started working in publishing, but it's still what she does for fun
3) a lot of young people she knows read--she says 90%. I would say that of people under 40 I know, 90% WOULD read in theory, 80% do read, and at least 50% are pretty well-read (including a fair number of really voracious readers). (Granted, I'm a book person, and most of the people I know are book people. But I know a heck of a lot of book people.)

What she doesn't say but is also true (at least, from my perspective) is that the ruling roost of acquisitions editors--the famous cream--are over 40 and tend to acquire and market things that they are interested in. That's why it's a little (and a bit) upsetting to read that someone who in theory exercises a lot of power in determining which books make a splash is convinced that half the population are illiterate uncultured miscreants.

There are also a frighteningly large number of editors who never, ever read for pleasure. But that's neither here nor there.

On a different note, I think the best fiction appeals to people of any age. So maybe this whole discussion is unnecessary. But my pride was hurt a little.


Jill Myles said...

I'm constantly surprised by the whole "No one is reading!" argument.

Harry Potter?
Da Vinci Code?
Heck, Jessica Seinfeld?

I'd argue that tons of people are still reading. Maybe it's not that people aren't's that soooooooo many books are being produced that the numbers aren't the same. If you have 10 books in a library, you're going to have each book read hundreds of times. If you have a hundred books in a library, you might only have each book read 10 times. Still the same amount of people visiting, but there's just more variety.

Just my unedumacated opinion. ;)

Bernita said...

I'm always suspicious of those who make unfavourable comparisons with "the good ole days."

Colorado Writer said...

Is the argument really about whether people are reading OR purchasing books?

I read 3-5 books a week and have since I was 5 years old. I'm not 40. YET. But most of my girlfriends (age 30 and up) don't read on a regular basis. Too busy.

Some might read 1-3 books per year. Some might listen to books on tape. Some see the movie and pretend they have read the book.

My library gets a TON of traffic. There are usually two of each book on the shelves. Sometimes more.

I don't buy every book I read, but we give hardcover children's books as gifts, but generally I don't buy a book unless one of my writerly friends wrote it, I'm adding a book to my collection, or I get a nice gift card as a gift.

As with everything, books get more and more expensive. But, I still LOVE THEM.

writtenwyrdd said...

People read, but where I live, many (maybe most) do not read very much. Maybe a couple of books a year. However, then there are the other folks who read constantly. Mixed bag. And a lot of the reading is by professionals who have to read a lot of technical and professional journals, so they don't read much fiction due to lack of time.