Back in the 1830s, ten thousand people bought Harriet Martineau’s book Illustrations of Political Economy. It’s a remarkable statistic that one hundred and forty thousand read it. Each family owned a copy and passed it around.
Each of those one hundred forty thousand readers in 1950 went on to own their own copy. Fast-forward to today and one copy of the book can sell that many times over.
But despite infinite shelf-space, fewer people are reading novels. Our attention clings to news with little substance. As a result, we fatten our minds with misinformation that has no utility. Instead, its serves as fodder for banter within our worlds of influence.
Technology eases distribution, yet it doesn’t guarantee people will read in depth.
“We’re spending ten times as much time with a device, and one-tenth as much time reading a book.” — Seth Godin