The world’s knowledge bank is so vast that it is becoming difficult for humans to keep up. This, coupled with our dwindling reading culture mixed with low attention span, tells the story of humanity’s apparent high capacity to produce intellectual materials and our debatable ability to consume such output. However, there are other factors responsible for the disparities between the number of books published every year and the growing lack of interest in reading them. In this article, I will explore all of the reasons why you are finding it difficult to pick or read a book.
Over the last few decades, the definition of a book has undergone serious modifications to suit the technology advancements that have expanded the scope of objects that fall under this terminology. Ten years ago, Google, while embarking on a project to digitize and store every book ever published, defined a book as a “tome.” Google explains that a tome is:
an idealized bound volume, which can have millions of copies or restricted to just one or two copies.
Although this definition was stylized to help Google determine how to go about eliminating duplicates and ensuring that their database only contains unique titles, it does little to define the minimum number of texts or the format of publications set as the requirements for determining what connotes a book.
Nonetheless, the prevailing consensus on this subject matter has come to embrace audio and text publications as the major criteria for materials that qualify as a book.
I believe that the first reason why we often feel indecisive when it comes to picking a book has to do with the enormity of options. As of 2010, Google, with the help of its algorithm, estimated that there were 129,864,880 unique books. Therefore, an average person looking to choose from the vast supply of printed knowledge had to sieve through almost 130 million options. UNESCO estimates that 2.2 million new titles are published yearly, with America and China accounting for 304,000 and 404,000 new titles respectively. Now think of the sort of dilemma an average person in 2020 encounters under the same scenario, considering the explosion of the eBook market and self-publications. In 2017, the number of self-published books hit 1 million, while the audiobook market generated $2.5 billion as revenue.
There is a lot of factors to consider when choosing a book:
The complexity of this task, particularly to individuals who are not members of a book club or do not have a trusted source that recommends books, could discourage even the most curious of minds.
Another factor that plays into our diminishing interest in reading centers on the unending strata of today’s society and how it defines the type of information we consume. We mold our beliefs based on the nature of our immediate society. If you belong to religion A, you will rarely search through the literature catalog of religion B when looking for a new book. Unfortunately, we let our political belief, profession, or race define our reading culture and push us further into an enclosed chamber. Therefore, rather than expand our source of information beyond our chosen group, we opt for streamlined searches with the help of filtering tools and personalized content. That required a very important powerful tool — critical thinking.
It is amazing how things will play out in the not-too-far future when companies roll out commercial virtual reality-based products as one of the growing number of applications vying for our attention at the very moment we connect our devices to the internet. Already, the human’s attention span has shrunk considerably, which makes it a tad difficult to focus on reading the content of a book at a stretch before losing interest. This assertion is evident in the framework of articles accepted in the online community.
Website and blog owners often prefer short-form write-ups (300 words max or twitter 140 characters) because they understand that a large fraction of people only takes the time to read for a couple of minutes at most. In some cases, visitors just scan through pages. Hence, site owners have moved to highlight the most important details. Likewise, there is an increased affinity for visual content. As such, it is not surprising that videos have suddenly become a criterion for attracting and retaining visitors. More so, we are coming to terms with the fact that some would rather wait for a novel to be made into a movie than take the time to read the printed form. The end result, as we have seen countless times, is an ill-portrayed enactment of cleverly written words that dilute the essence of masterpieces.
Lastly, there is a shortage of credible sources for finding new and quality books. Some directories only showcase the works of authors or publishing houses that can pay for the right exposure. In other words, these directories might not feature a wide array of books for each category and genre. Nevertheless, there is a simple fix to this problem. I will advise that you research top and credible websites that have all the resources necessary to improve your reading culture. With a quality directory, it becomes easier to find unbiased book reviews and become motivated to explore new things.
On a bright note, we can now walk, run, drive accompanied by the world’s greatest authors. Audiobooks allow us to build a new paradigm of thinking o the go. Free online libraries (website & apps) allow us to tap into any desired text. Infographics portray the data in a more organized way. Research papers in easy to digest PDF formats don’t take a lot of space. Almost everything is open. All we need is a desire with a systematic approach on how to digest the knowledge base.
“Information overload creates a poverty of intelligence and action.” — Jag Randhawa
We yet explore how to build the mental muscles in order to increase the ability to properly structure information. Until of course singularity or the moment when the information will be uploaded to our brain.