Are people really reading more?

Are people really reading more?
Kate Headen Waddell - Tue Feb 23, 2010 @ 01:12AM
Comments: 11

Reading MoreFor years "they" have been telling us that the next generation is going to heck in a handbasket. This includes a serious decline in the nobler pursuits, including marriage, lifetime careers, and reading.

According to an article in the NY Times, a recent report released by the National Endowment for the Arts  -“Reading on the Rise: A New Chapter in American Literacy” - shows that people are reading more, and not just tweets and texts, either.

The report is based in part on information derived from data gathered by the United States Census Bureauin 2008. The good news for civilization as we know it, is that the percentage of adults who admitted to reading at least one work of fiction in the past twelve months has risen for the first time in nearly thirty years. The greatest gains were made in the 18-24 year old set. This is good news for the publishing industry, which was already struggling when the economic downturn hit last year.

Dana Gioia, chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts was quoted as saying that “in a cultural moment when we are hearing nothing but bad news, we have reassuring evidence that the dumbing down of our culture is not inevitable.” I enjoyed the movie "Idiocracy," but I am glad that it might not actually go down that way.

What does that mean for us as marketers? Well, when the Millenials become the next generation of C-level execs, they will have the attention span to keep reading white papers, case studies, and all of the other in-depth marketing collateral they need to make good business decisions. MTV who? 

Do you read more now than you used to? Is ten pages still the right length for a white paper? Chime in with a comment!

Comments: 11

Comments

1. Stephanie Tilton  |  my website   |   Tue Feb 23, 2010 @ 04:36AM

Kate, thanks for the reminder that we need to start considering how content will be consumed differently going forward. I would imagine that's why we're seeing such an uptick in video and audio versions of white papers.

That said, I also heard recently about a study showing that people still enjoy picking up a book or magazine because it's such a welcome break from the glare of the cold screen.

For what it's worth, a couple of studies in 2009 seem to indicate that the 10-page white paper is no longer the norm. In February 2009, InformationWeek Business Technology Network published a report entitled "How to Maximize the Use of White Papers In Your B2B Marketing and Sales Process." http://createyournextcustomer.techweb.com/2009/03/white-paper-research/
Of 542 professional IT buyers surveyed, 86% preferred white papers under 10 pages, with 50% wanting even shorter ones at under 5 pages.

More recently, Eccolo Media published the B2B Technology Collateral Survey Report http://www.eccolomedia.com/2009surveyreport.php
Of 501 responsible for either making B2B technology purchases or influencing purchasing decisions in U.S.-based companies, the majority of respondents (65%) felt six pages or less to be the ideal number.

Best,
Stephanie

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