Ah, Book Expo America, otherwise known as BEA...the industry trade show everyone seems to complain about attending. There's no good reason for me to hit BEA, so I haven't been there for at least the past 10 years. Thanks to this great summary by attendee Laura Miller, I feel like I didn't miss a thing.
A couple of items struck me in Laura's write-up. First, the seemingly ever-shortening sales surge for most books, even the best-sellers. The example she cited was Scott McClellan's tell-all about the Bush administration, but that's far from the only one likely to have an abbreviated burst. When I finish reading and writing a review of a book I often feel like my comments are too late, even when I'm reading a galley and finishing it before the book is 30 days old. Yes, Amazon reviews last forever, but it seems like all I'm doing is contributing to the long tail. Is it me or does it feel like every book has a much shorter sales spike than a comparable one would have 5 years ago? Maybe there's a correlation to our ever-shortening attention spans.
Which brings me to my second item... Laura is right that all the recent surveys indicate adults are reading fewer books than ever before. And yet, as she notes, it seems everyone is writing a book of their own.
I know it sounds crazy, and I'm a big fan of these services, but are all the self-publishing companies (e.g., Lulu, AuthorHouse, iUniverse, etc.) actually contributing to the decline in readership?! Most people I know who are writing their first book are also avid readers. But the time they're spending on that novel is undoubtedly taking away from their reading time.
I'll use myself and my blogging habits as a related example. I find myself reading fewer blogs lately. It's something I noticed a few months ago and haven't figured out why. On the other hand, I still use my lunch time to keep both my Publishing 2020 and Kindleville blogs properly fed with new posts every week. I seem to be getting burned out reading all my RSS feeds, so, when I want to relax and do some "real" reading...I generally pick up a book. I'm spending more and more time on my stack of unread books, which is a good thing, but it comes at the expense of blog reading. Maybe this will go in cycles and I'll dig back into my RSS feeds again before too long, but I find it interesting to look back on my own patterns.
What do your reading patterns look like? Are you following and reading as many blogs as you did 6 months ago, for example?