Publishers Fret: Last 47 Americans, Who Can Read More Than A Tweet, Nearing Retirement
American publishers held an emergency meeting last week when it was discovered that there are only 47 Americans left who have enough power of concentration to read more than a tweet, and many were nearing retirement.
“This is going to a huge problem for us,” said David Remnick editor of the New Yorker. “Sure we’ll still have subscribers, but it would be better if we had readers who could get past a paragraph or two. I’m sorry to say our already dumb country appears to be getting dumber.”
The death of reading, long feared, finally became apparent when Charles Krauthammer’s book of extraordinarily dull and mostly illogical conservative essays reached the top of the New York Times bestseller list.
“There’s no way that anybody is actually buying that book,” said Kathleen Marx of Doubleday Publishing, speaking of Krauthammer. “It seems as though the sale of only twenty or thirty books puts you right to the top.”
Brenda Thompson, editor of the Norton Anthology of Literature had an alternative view on the Krauthammer book.
“There’s a category of books now that are meant to be owned and displayed on bookshelves — not read,” said Thompson. “It all started with Stephen Hawking’s ‘Brief History of Time.’ That sold millions but we are quite certain that it was never read. I tried. By page two, I was totally lost and wanted to kill myself.”
Meanwhile, the demographic changes in the country, combined with social media, have slowly but surely whittled the reading public down to about forty seven readers, spread across three book clubs, in New York City and Washington, DC. Even with these book clubs there is no guarantee that anyone is reading.
“Once Esther Brooke died last year,” said Sally Jackson in a conversation about her Washington, DC book club, “we gave up the pretense of reading and just drank wine. It’s more fun to get drunk in the afternoon than to bother reading books with all those damn words. Maybe we just have to wait for another one of those Bill O’Reilly ‘killing’ books. Those are great, except for all the killing.”
Not everyone was contrite about the loss of competent readers. One American organization thought the absence of reading was a net gain for the country.
“Wen those eleets all di wee wil finelly bee ekwil as promused in the constitooshon,” tweeted Earnest Crumsuker of the American Society of For the Advancement of Illiterates. “Trump dont read and needer does we. And he get to bee Presodant.”