Not Reading Has Consequences

9 P 1What’s going to happen to our society if people who have the ability to read for fun, see no value in doing so?

It’s never good to be the one who predicts something terrible, but they say if you look at the numbers close enough and don’t ignore the signs, you’ll predict what’s coming next.

Only 20% of people read on their own and that percentage will continue to fall over the next year. Lack of reading voluntarily has consequences to the United States. This is called a…

Social Crash.

  • New product ideas are scarce.
  • Only a few students “thriving” in school; struggle is a common theme.
  • Teens do not understand the importance of developing their talent.
  • Teens have low self-esteem, which continues into adulthood.
  • Career advancement seems impossible.
  • Society spending 7-10 hours in front of a screen, (Television, laptop, computer, cell phone, iPad) causing loss of sleep, headaches and lack of imagination.
  • Feelings of motivation, patience, and confidence have vanished.
  • No more compassion and empathy for others.
  • Stress at an all-time high.
  • Lack of creativity and research, causing the United States to fall behind in every area of advancement.
  • Reduction of successful mid-size businesses, resulting in limited job opportunities while adding over $200 billion in non-productive costs.
  • Annual incomes dropping five times lower than what could be achieved.
  • Less millionaires to help the poor and make donations to build hospitals, churches, and schools.

All this is going to happen based on the lack of voluntary reading. If you list all the reasons that reading on your own is beneficial and even crucial to achieving your dreams, then every item on the above list can be reversed.

Who’s to Blame?

Who caused this horrific trend in our society? Teachers? Parents? Reading organizations? Kids and teenagers? Social media? Cell phones? Video games?

Those are all easy targets, however, none are to blame. The true problem has been that books are not personalized to today’s society, resulting in a lack of interest.

Publishing is the only industry that hasn’t adjusted. Think about how music, clothing, vehicles, and every other industry has adapted to the current generation. Books haven’t changed in a hundred years, causing a major drop in voluntary reading.

In fact, you can really narrow down the blame to authors who are responsible for writing books.

9MRC7Updating Books

Seth Godin, CEO and International Bestselling Author says this, “I hear from readers getting ever more impatient about the traditional format we expect from books…We write books to make a difference, to spread an idea, to educate…and if the format can’t do that, we should find a new way.”

In order for children, teenagers and adults to begin reading on their own, books must be so entertaining and relatable that they would choose it over any other activity.

If that statement seems impossible, or out of date, then it’s time for a change in current books.

A New Genre of Books

Based on research dating back to the 1960’s, here’s a description of how books should be written and published.

  • Printed. E-Books aren’t working because they keep the eyes in front of a screen. Printed books have been proven to lower stress levels by 68% and improve the reader in many different areas such as communication, unique ideas, and confidence.
  • Under 50 Pages. Each book should be setup as a series that can be read in short bursts. This is less intimidating and the cost of each book will be under $5.00.
  • Short Chapters. Each chapter should have the ability to be read in ten minutes or less.
  • Connectors. Inside each chapter should be five to ten “connectors,” which means the reader sees a break in the page every thirty seconds to one minute of reading. This unique approach is based on teens (and adults) having the mindset of reading text messages, social media posts, and short emails.
  • Short Paragraphs. With no more than four lines in a paragraph, the reader has a sense of accomplishment and builds confidence in reading.
  • Power Sentences. These are similar to the first and last line of a chapter which “hook” the reader. The goal is to continue “capturing” the reader’s attention throughout the story.
  • Movie Script Dialogue. Character name is placed in front of the dialogue instead of always saying, “he said,” and “she said.” Movie script dialogue is a great way to increase the speed of the book and decrease confusion for the reader.
  • Shortened Descriptions. Descriptions are important, but it isn’t necessary to explain every detail. Instead, it’s more productive to keep the story moving.
  • Personalized Fiction. All fiction should be “Based on True Events” with plausible fiction added. The reader will better relate to the story which gives a sense of personalization.
  • Niche Non-Fiction. All non-fiction books should be written for a specific audience with detailed interests. For example, books for High School Marching Band, Theatre, Working Moms, Business Managers and so forth. With 50-pages books, personalization is doable.


Most publishers and authors are marketing to their current readers. No one is marketing to teens and adults who know how to read, but aren’t. You won’t see these people in a bookstore or library.

This new genre of book isn’t a replacement of current books. Those that read it, will gain confidence with their reading. What they once considered “difficult reading” will become much easier.

If this new type of book is introduced, millions of teens and adults will discover the value in reading, increasing traffic in libraries and bookstores. Most of all, education rates will rise without changing one item on the current curriculum.

9MBs rk articleRon Knight, Author of 9 Minute Books and Co-Founder of 9 Minute Reading Challenge

Sources for this Research

K12 Reader

Journal of Librarianship and Information Science

Reading Comprehension Test of Students

Wendelin/Zinck Study

Hooked on Books Experiment Conducted by Fader

McNeil/Fader Research Test

Applebee Research Test

Schoonever/La Brant Research Test

National Library Trust (UK)

Nell, 1988

Seth Godin, CEO, International Bestselling Author

George Lossius, CEO at Publishing Technology

United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization

Linguist Stephen D. Krashen

Neuropsychologist Dr. David Lewis

Han Huang, Director of Product Management for Data Licensing at Bowker

Wall Street Journal

OECD Research

Charlie “Tremendous” Jones

Darren Hardy

National Endowment for the Arts

ABC of Gender Equality in Education

Gambrell, 1996

Schools Natlib

Success Magazine

Reading Agency

Dave Ramsey, Financial Expert

Joel Trammell, Forbes Contributor

The Social Animal

University of Sussex Research Study

2011 PIRLS Report

Growing Independence Report



Dr. Alice Sullivan

De Gruyter

Jeff Staiger, UO Librarian



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