When looking and the landscape of books in the future, and talking to various authors and storytellers, there’s a split in the optimism of the future. Some believe that reading with further decrease and become more of a rare entertainment experience, much like opera and theatre is today. Others believe that we’ve seen a resurgence in readership in the last ten years and that it will continue for some time.
I tend to agree with the latter. Thanks to the abilities of J.K. Rowlings and the marketing juggernaut behind series like Harry Potter, Generation Y is comprised of many readers. Whether it’s Twilight, Percy Jackson and the Olympians, His Dark Materials, Abarat or about a dozen other titles, readership in that demographic has risen and storytellers have an audience of millions to tap into for some time to come.
However, it made me think about the lost generation – my generation – Generation X. Those in the age of 25 to 40 were fascinated not by a Harry Potter or a Candy Quackenbush, but Zelda and Super Mario. Video games were the big rage in our youth, and combined with the expansion from three television stations to hundreds, multimedia gadgets and the internet, reading a book was the least of concerns for us.
Our parents were readers. Baby boomers didn’t have all the visual stimulation we did, and novels were an accepted pass-time. Gen Y, although bombarded with many more options than we had growing up, embraced reading once again as an entertainment vehicle on a broader scale than their parents had. Give the internet, mostly a reading and writing instrument in itself, some credit for this amongst other factors.
A slight increase in reading can be seen in this demographic, but again, it’s small and leads many in the writing community to despair over their opportunities, publishing houses to decrease their desire for certain genres, and a lack of optimism about what is to come.
Over the next few decades, it will be interesting to see if Generation Y and the one that follows continue as a large reading audience, or will mutlimedia completely nullify the experience of an imaginative novel. Unfortunately, Generation X is past the age of adaptability.
One can never know for sure.