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Will Multi-Media Novels Make Reading Books Popular Again?
Los Angeles , CA – Literary reading in America is declining rapidly, according to the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). An emerging genre of novel, one that combines prose with its own music soundtrack, is expected to raise readership and boost the sales of books just like music videos boosted the sales of records in the eighties.
A recent survey conducted by the Census Bureau at the NEA's request, asked more than 17,000 American adults if they had read any novels, short stories, poetry or plays in their leisure time. The survey's finding showed that only 46.7% did. That's a decline rate of 14% since 1992, or a loss of more than 20 million potential readers. This coincides with a decline in total book reading, which had a rate of decline of 7% over the past decade These are sobering statistics in view of the fact that a decline in reading is indicative of a society's cultural impoverishment.
Indeed, while 53.3% of Americans do not read novels and other literary works, 95% listen to at least one hour of radio each day , particularly music radio. Maria Veloso, author of “Midwinter Turns to Spring,” the first-ever novel with its own music soundtrack, states, “It occurred to me that adding the element of music to prose would spark renewed interest in reading.”
With our society's shift toward electronic media and the Internet, and video games and portable digital devices enticing Americans away from reading, it is hoped that incorporating music into novels will add excitement that will make reading figures go up.
The concept is not new. Educators have always tried to make unpopular activities, such as learning and reading fun by injecting the element of entertainment. Book publishers that cater to the teen population have gone beyond traditional print books into exciting alternatives that get teens back into libraries and bookstores. They've done it by broadening and enlivening their book offerings with graphic novels, audiobooks, video, music interactive software and games, and more.
“Reading a novel demands a degree of focused attention and engagement, and often requires a month-long time commitment,” says Veloso, “something that most adults usually can't spare. So we give in to the easy lure of a two-hour movie, or the instant gratification of television that requires only passive participation. That's why I wrote this novel in the way that the average person would be motivated to read it. First of all, it's a relatively quick read. It will take only a few nights or one weekend to read. And then, of course, there's the music.
“I didn't set out to write Midwinter Turns to Spring specifically to raise the literacy in this country, but if it ushers in a sub-genre of writing that brings back readers in droves, I would find that gratifying indeed,” says Veloso. It remains to be seen if novels like Midwinter Turns to Spring will indeed raise the figures for literary reading.