It is interesting to note the ‘chatter’ that is about now regarding the topic of reading. Has the e-reader reintroduced the pleasure of reading or has the e-book phenomenon simply replaced what would have been read in book form anyway? Then there is the question of reading as part of education. There have been a number of comments on this blog about the seeming lack of classic reading now in secondary education, but perhaps this has been on a steady decline for some years now. Will the e-book help bring back reading in schools?
The argument about classic reading being more fitting than popular fiction is a topic that is often debated as well. However in the end, whether in e-book or book format, it is about introducing the young to the pleasure and habit of reading. Another angle is that it could be argued that young men and boys read less than young women. Perhaps it may be promoting a stereotype, but anecdotally it would seem young girls and young women are more likely to read. But what are they reading? Paranormal, urban fiction, vampires, chick-lit and romance? A Jane Austen or two? So nothing has really changed from the 50’s to now.
Girls have always read more than boys, but perhaps, with the attraction boys have with gadgets and toys, the e-book reader might lead boys to reading. As most e-readers can store and play music, send emails and offer basic Internet access, it just might offer an incentive for boys to read as well. My only concern is that young boys are not seen as a great market by book publishers. What genres are being promoted as being aimed at young boys and young men? Very few. Sci-fi perhaps and a few action dramas.
Look at the new authors being signed by agents and publishers. Chick lit, romance, paranormal, vampires and urban teenage fantasy. Girl stuff written by women. The unfortunate fact of life, and in particular book marketing life, is that boys and young men are not seen as a profitable sector. So if there is very little written for them, and even less published for them, what are they going to read? Biggles yet again?