"Nobody reads anymore." Excuse me while I laugh.
You may have heard this sort of pronouncement recently. I have, many times. "Nobody reads webpages/blog posts/books anymore!"
It's not only nonsense. It's hilarious nonsense...and it's self-sabotaging to businesses.
Why does anyone think this way? What's the truth of the matter? Let me lay it out, because it's an easy case to make.
Video and Social Distract Easily
I see two groups as responsible for this nonsense.
The first group - and it's the majority - in the "nobody reads anymore" crowd point to the explosion of video as their justification.
These are people who default to watching YouTube, Instagram & TikTok each day. So it's not surprising they think this way. It's just very limiting.
All they see is video and social media...surely that's all there is?
The second group is made up of prognosticators. These are people looking for a controversial statement to make, which they can use to sound 'forward-thinking.' Why? To garner attention for THEIR videos and social media, of course. Maybe with an app or course to buy as well.
(I've even seen them hawking a book. The irony abounds.)
Are these perspectives true? Nope. While knowledge consumption patterns have indeed changed in the past several years, it doesn't mean humans have abandoned reading. Not at all.
Even developers read aplenty. From real books!
The Reality Hasn't Changed - Plenty of People Read Online
People read more than ever, in every format. That's the reality.
How do I know? I'll give some concrete data in a moment, but first, let me disprove the entire argument with one word.
This is a newer platform where writers of all stripes may publish their work. Substack distributes the work to subscribers who sign up on the platform. Writers may publish for free, or charge subscribers a small monthly fee.
An entire platform based on reading. And it charges money to read. Surely it died in the cradle then. No platform could ever gain any traction if no one reads AND charges for it. Surely not!
Uh oh. Reality has a differing opinion.
At the end of 2021 Substack had racked up over 1 million subscribers. In April of 2022, Substack.com received 30 million visits. That month!
All 30 million people reading material published directly to them. From a group of writers across topics like business, finance, philosophy, technology, and more.
But nobody reads anymore. Right.
Let's get to the data. Here's a few 2023 blogging statistics from Adam at BloggingWizard.com.
- 77% of Internet users read blog posts.
- 46% of people report taking advice or recommendations from bloggers or vloggers.
- Medium has over 60 million monthly readers.
- Between 2013 and 2019, the median length of blog posts increased by 53%. Nowadays the most-shared blog posts have between 3,000 and 10,000 words!
But nobody reads anymore.
Depressing Caveat: Book Readership Has Gone Down
Just to show I'm not pushing a bias here, I'll include a counter-statistic. A December 2021 Gallup Poll showed that book readership went down from 2016 to 2021. By how much?
In 2016, people read an average of 15.6 books per year. In 2021, the average had gone down to 12.6 books per year.
The downward trend showed up most significantly among college graduates.
I find this a bit depressing, but facts are facts. Still, even this poll shows something notable - despite the explosion of video and blogs across the world, people do still read books!
The World Reads Eagerly, Just in Different Forms. Leverage This in Your Business' Content.
I could go on, but this should suffice for my point.
People do read, and read often. In fact, the various reading options out there provide a buffet of channels which businesses can use to reach audiences.
Some require short, aggressive copy. Others allow for slower, more comprehensive prose. Still others work alongside other media such as video (particularly short-form videos these days).
It's all out there ready for use. And people ready to read it.