Tag Archives: Reading

World Book Night–Igniting the Love of Reading

World Book Night

April 23, 2014 marked the 450th Anniversary of the birth of the immortal bard, William Shakespeare. In celebration and honor of this historic day, volunteers across the globe, myself included, handed out free books to light and non-readers. World Book Night, the organization behind the book giving, is founded on a mission to “spread the love of reading, person to person.” The goal is that each year, on the night of the birth of the most prolific and celebrated writer in the English language, the passion for reading is shared.

As an avid reader and lover of literature, I felt compelled to be a part of this incredible evening. It all began when Carl Lennertz, Executive Director of World Book Night, came to speak at one of my NYU lectures. As soon as he had spoken of the premise of World Book Night I was hooked. I knew instantly that I had to be a part of this movement to inspire others to discover the joy of literature.

I listened with rapt attention and glistening eyes as Carl spoke of an elderly recipient who had never owned a book prior to her World Book Night book. I couldn’t imagine never having owned a book. It was as if someone had knocked the wind out of me when I heard him say that. I was overwhelmed with emotion and with the conviction to be a giver. Hot tears streamed down my face, and I brushed them away as I walked up to meet the man behind the magical night. I gushed about how touched I was by his speech and about how ardently I hoped to be a giver in 2014.

I got my wish, and was selected as a giver for this year’s historic World Book Night. I anxiously awaited April 23rd, carefully planned where I would distribute my books, and reflected on what I would say to the recipients. Yesterday, I printed flyers, recipient letters, bookmarks, and my name tag to designate me as an official book giver. I chose Front Steps Homeless Shelter to give out copies of the legendary Agatha Christie’s After the Funeral.

I spoke passionately to the residents of the mission of World Book Night, of the anniversary of Shakespeare’s birth, and of the book I was sharing with them. I listened as they shared their thoughts on Agatha Christie and their excitement about reading her book. Willie is one of the residents that I had the pleasure of meeting and sharing After the Funeral with. He is part of Front Steps’ GED program and is their most enthusiastic student. Willie accepted his book with eyes alight, and an eagerness that was almost tangible. I knew that I was sharing one of my favorite authors with a budding reader who would soon come to love her and many more authors with the earnest passion of a book lover.

Books have the incredible ability to nurture the human spirit. It is my hope that Willie and everyone that I shared books with, who are currently enduring such hardships, will get lost in the pages of Christie’s fiction, be captivated by her charismatic characters, and get wrapped up in the weave of her mystery. As I handed out books, I beamed with joy at the knowledge that I was a part of facilitating Willie’s and the other recipients’ reading journey and hopefully sparking an inextinguishable and lifelong passion for reading.

Willie and I

To be able to share the gift of reading with others is an earnest desire of mine as both a reader and a publishing professional. World Book Night gives volunteers across the world an avenue to channel their passion for books to inspire a new generation of readers. To the authors who waive their royalties, the publishers who fund the printing of special World Book Night editions of the books, the bookstores and libraries that volunteer to host givers, and to the staff at World Book Night–thank you for this glorious opportunity to bring books into the lives of those who have yet to discover how important they will become to them.

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The Hybrid Reader–and What That Means for Books

As a heartwarming follow up to my last post on the digital future of publishing, I’d like to discuss the future of our beloved books. As an impassioned reader and a self-admitted traditionalist, I will cleave to print books my whole life through. As a publishing professional, I believe digital advances are wonderful and creating an entirely new experience for readers. Yet, on a personal level as a reader, I believe that there is an innate magical quality about the experience of reading a print book that cannot be recreated. If you’ve read my blog before, I’m sure you’re thinking that this isn’t the first time you’ve heard this. However, recent research from a post-holiday Pew survey about the reading habits of American adults put a huge smile on my face and prompted me to address this topic again.

As we move into 2014, findings from a Pew survey indicate that “most people who read e-books also read print books, and that just 4% of readers are e-book only.” Plus, “overall, about half (52%) of readers only read a print book,” and “87% of e-book readers also read a print book in the past 12 months.” These statistics are exceptionally encouraging for the publishing industry, as it indicates that readers still value the experience of reading a printed book and that they are reading across mediums. The boundaries of the publishing world and the concept of the book are constantly being tested, reshaped, and molded. Yet, despite all the changes readers continue to reach for print books.

What is emerging from the constant developments in the publishing world is a new kind of reader–a hybrid reader. They are not setting books aside, but rather are embracing a new reading experience across mediums: print books, Kindles, iPads, Nooks, laptops, smart phones, etc. We are seeing the evolution of readers in tandem with the evolution of the publishing landscape. Though, I would venture to say that readers are definitely moving at a slower pace than the publishing industry in their adoption of digital reading devices. The constant looming threat that there will one day be no books, libraries, or bookstores is, to my mind, unthinkable. And, thankfully the results of this Pew survey confirm that.

The survey also indicated that the reading pulse of Americans is thriving. Overall, “76% of adults surveyed read a book in some format over the previous 12 months,” and the “average number of books read or listened to [in 2013] was 12.”   These statistics both shocked and pleased me. The introduction of e-reading devices has undoubtably impacted the number and diversity of readers. And, as an avid reader and an ardent lover of words, ultimately, I want as many people as possible to find a reading experience that excites and entrances them in the same way as reading a print book does for me.

The takeaway for book lovers is that the digital future of publishing does not mean the death of the the book. In fact, the harmonious relationship between books and digital reading devices may be just what the world of literature needed to keep generations of new readers engaged as we move into an ever-changing and technologically advanced world.

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Book vs. Nook–Pros and Cons of the Digital Age

I have always been and will stubbornly remain an ardent lover of books. To me there is nothing quite like holding a weighty novel in your hands, feeling the texture of the pages as you turn them, nostrils filling with a whiff of that distinctive smell of paper and ink, and pulse quickening in anticipation as you delve into the exquisitely beguiling world of literature.

There is a beautiful artistry to creating printed books, and one that I desperately hope will not be forgotten or lost. Though, I am fully aware of all the wonderful advantages of technological advances, I cannot help but have what seems to be becoming a nostalgic longing for an age when people carried leather satchels laden down with books from their local library.

I recently came across an article from The Telegraph describing a study by The National Literacy Trust, a U.K. charity that campaigns to improve children’s literacy rates in the United Kingdom. The study sheds light on the impact that e-readers are having on children’s literacy. The study strikingly “found those who read only electronic books daily are significantly less likely to be strong readers than those who read daily in print, and are much less likely to enjoy reading.” There is perhaps a certain detachment to the content they are reading on their computer, tablet, or e-reader screens that might not occur were they reading a printed book, magazine, or newspaper. I believe that there is something to be said for actually holding a physical book in your hands. As a reader, reading in print makes me feel much more connected to the content that I am reading and much more pulled into the story, whether it be the plot of a narrative or the details of a news story.

However, there is much praise due to the positive impact that computers and e-readers have had on the number of children and young people now reading books and newspapers. In the Information Age of today, when content is being voraciously written and consumed in the digital sphere, tablets and e-readers act as an excellent platform to reach the target audiences of children and young adults.

Though I personally prefer the “antiquated” notion of picking up a book, I am open to and excited about the opportunities that will come from the digital evolution of publishing. My hopes for the future of publishing is that there can be a harmonious balance between printed books and their digital counterparts. I realize that to be a part of this industry I must embrace the digital world and all the advantages that come with it, but it is my earnest desire that printed books remain a very rich and vibrant part of our present and future and never fade into glorious vestiges of the past.

See the full article details on the The Telegraph.

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Building a Generation of Book Lovers

I have been thinking a lot about children’s literature lately. As I prepare to begin my journey into a career in publishing I have been contemplating the critical role that children play in the future of publishing.

Playstations. Xboxes. Game Cubes. Tablets. Smart Phones. With the abundance of digital game centers kids are becoming increasingly less apt to choose a book over a game. The simple pleasure of discovering the twists and turns of the plot, befriending the characters, and getting lost in a new and exciting world seems to be foreign to many children.

A recent study by commissioned by the National Reading Campaign in Canada, authored by Sharon Murphy, indicated that choice was a “key factor in instilling a love of reading.” The report’s primary aim was to uncover the factors that promote a nation of people who love to read as opposed to simply a literate nation.

The research touched on numerous telling aspects about children’s engagement in reading and the effect of gender, age, choice of content, and reading environment on the amount of pleasure derived from reading. The most compelling finding was that even those children who identified themselves as frequent readers would not read texts other than those that were assigned to them. This indicates that the way in which reading is being taught in schools is actually stifling children’s enjoyment of reading.

If given the choice of the types of book they would like to read, children will be much more receptive to reading as an act of pleasure as opposed to a mandatory chore. Children in the study also positively responded to a change in environment. When taken out of the formal setting of the classroom and put into a more “comfy” setting the children became much more social, comfortable, and confident in themselves and in the opinions about what they had read.

I was read to as a child and know the importance that foundation in reading has played in my life as both an avid reader and writer. Fostering the love of books in children is something that I believe is critical, especially now that our world is becoming so increasingly focused on the digital sphere. In order to get children to become active and engaged readers, we must carefully nurture the love of reading from an early age. I believe that the future of publishing is strongly dependent upon instilling our children with a love of reading that will carry through into adulthood. Empower your children–give them the wonderful gift of the joy of reading.

Check out the full details of the study on Publishers Weekly.

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