The Lincoln Plawg - the blog with footnotes

Politics and law from a British perspective (hence Politics LAW BloG): ''People who like this sort of thing...'' as the Great Man said

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Tuesday, February 01, 2005
 

The no time to read factor: novels v newspapers


I don't read much fiction. But my impression [1] is that not only has the number of novels published each year shown no sign of diminishing over a decade or so of the Web; but also the average length of novels has similarly failed to decline.

Why, then, has it become conventional wisdom that the public - or most of it - does not have the time to read a 'proper' newspaper?

(The Washington Enquirer freesheet is out today for the first time.)

This is not the sort of question one can answer from first principles. Naturally, you turn to Pew for analysis - this (PDF) released on January 24.

There is nothing quantifying the relative time spent on novel-reading and news consumption. There is a table (p44) showing that 35% read a book the day before they were sampled, compared with 42% who read a newspaper. And another (p45) which says that the time spent by young adults on news consumption of all classes has gone down over the last decade (but only - for 18 to 24 year olds - from 51 to 36 minutes - that extra 15 minutes is not going to make much impression on the average novel, I'm thinking).

More information clearly required.

  1. There should, of course, be stats available. I've failed to find any, though.


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