Sunday, March 23, 2008

Books By The Numbers

With the well-publicized problems of bookseller Borders, there are a lot of numbers circulating about books and reading that paint a pretty gloomy picture. But here's something I like to point out as a trustee of the Westchester (NY) Library System: in 2006 (latest year with data available), our 38 member libraries circulated nearly 14 books for every man, woman, and child in this county.

When I joined the board in 2003, we delivered about 1,000,000 books through our intra-library loan service along. Last year, we topped 1,200,000! For a society were nobody reads, we're awfully busy.

The 2007 survey by Ipsos Public Affairs for The Associated Press revealed that 27 percent of us haven't read a book of any kind in the last year. Fortunately for me, a writer, the same percentage — 27 percent — read 15 or more. And 8 percent of us read 51 books or more. When you exclude those people who didn't read a single book, the average number of books read in America last year was 20.

As Randall Stross said in the NY Times (1/27/2008—where some of this info was found), one can only wonder why 408 million books will be bought in the US in 2008 if no one reads anymore.

Dave Donelson, author of Heart of Diamonds

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