2015 saw the lowest amount of literature reading amongst Americans in over three decades. According to the National Endowment for the Arts, only 43.1% of adults reported having read one or more works of literature, be it novels, short stories, plays, or poetry. Today’s current percentage of reading adults marks the lowest point since 1982 when the NEA first started following reading trends in the US. These statistics refer to reading for pleasure as opposed to reading for school or work and demonstrate a marked decrease in such activities amongst the adult US population.
Though there are a variety of interweaving factors which have led to this unfortunate development, the main catalyst manifests in the form of alternative content. In today’s world, a variety of different content is within easy reach: from podcasts and music to movies and television. The marketplace, essentially, has become saturated with bigger and better attention grabbers. And because of access, the ability to conjure up any type of content on ones’ smartphone or computer, there becomes much more competition for the limited attention of the consuming public. Whereas thirty years ago, print (namely magazines, books, etc.) was the most accessible, now everything, including books, is equally accessible.
The internet itself, with its self-perpetuating endlessness, in a constant state of content generation, offers the single greatest obstacle to the pursuit of reading literature. Within the internet, the entirety of everything resides. It becomes harder to cut through the unending stream. How, then, can literary pursuits survive in this rapidly changing technological realm?
One adaptation in recent years that has bolstered readership has been the introduction of eBooks: electronic equivalents of their print counterparts. Because of the ease of access electronic books allows consumers, the appeal for this format has grown. However, what else can be done to brand print material for the modern world? Nothing is more effective in bridging the divide between the old regime (physical, print content) and the new regime (online, ephemeral content) than the use of book trailers.
By displaying the content encapsulated within the print form within a relatable modern veneer of a viral video, the applicability and popularity of that book becomes solidified. Because of the nature of the internet, there is the ability to create new content that will reach a vast multitude of individuals. It becomes something that transcends the mere print and appeals to the sensibilities of the modern individual. Book trailers are that taste, that cherished glimpse at a world beyond, meant to inspire one to venture forth and learn more.
It is time to embrace the newest step for the literary realm. At the end of the day, it is very unlikely that reading will wholly disappear. For as long as there are people who inquire, there will be those who seek answers in books. But in a world where attention spans are dwindling and content production is vast and stifling, it is necessary for books to appeal to a new mode. For those who wish to make an impact and fight the declining readership amongst the US populous, to use the powers of the internet and technology to their advantage, book trailers are by far the best route to take.