The Decline of Literary Fiction

I read this article from The Guardian last month about declining literary fiction sales. It points to smartphones as a huge culprit (though I’m sure the TV has been a reason for a steady decline in reading generally for many decades now).

“One reason suggested by the report for the decline in literary fiction sales is the recession, happening at the same time as the rise of cheap and easy entertainment.”

Are you, as a writer or a lover of literary literature, reading as much as you can? And, if not, why not? I believe internet addiction is a real thing, and valuable time is being wasted by many young and old people alike. Even us book lovers fall prey to the easiness of cheap entertainment.

I don’t own a smartphone myself, but this doesn’t mean I find it any easier than the next person to close a browser window when I happen to be in front of a computer. What I need to remember is that the book industry really does depend on me. It depends on all individuals who are bookworms at heart. I have bought hundreds of books, but I also need to be reading and talking about books. Suggesting books. Getting people besides myself to read them (and a large part of that means I need to read them).

Are there other things we can do to increase the readership of literary fiction in general? I don’t know, and I’m ambivalent about how helpful it really is to fling more words — even well-written fiction — into the overstuffed and distracting e-world. I’m pretty much against internet-connected phones (at least against how people use them to their disadvantage), though I understand they aren’t going away, so why not add a bit of literary and intellectual depth to the app-cluttered world of smartphones? At least it’s there even if it isn’t arguably the best platform for the attention that literary works deserve.

But what else can we do to turn the tide beyond adding to this wireless world? Well, maybe we can’t change the tide. And if we can’t, at least we can each individually give our lives depth and richness through books. Through reading them. Through talking about them. Perhaps even adding richness around us by recommending good literature to our friends and family.