August 26, 2008

Daily Blog 26: Top 10 Reasons People Don't Like to Read

At a recent event where Echelon author Margot Justes and I tried to sell our books for the first time, we were surprised to find that the majority of people didn't have much of an interest in reading. We took an informal survey and began asking passersby one question – do you like to read? For kicks, I thought I'd share some of their outrageous answers. (And most of these answers did come one right after the other.)

10 Question: Hi, do you like to read?

Answer: The woman laughs and points to her toddler. "I'm not much of a reader." (Blame the kid. Not a good start.)

9 Q: Do you like to read?
A: "Not right now, but thank you."

8 Q: Do you like to read?
A: One woman said she liked sci-fi and she doesn't like a book "if (something) doesn't blow up or someone doesn't die." (Margot mentioned that her book has a dead body in chapter one. I had mystery and horror books; she had romance and suspense. Darn, how did we miss sci-fi?)

7 Q: Do you like to read?
A: "Not really." (Score one point for truthfulness.)

6 Q: Do you like to read?

A: The woman asks, "You wrote this? Is it free?" (No comment.)

5 Q: Do you like to read?
A: "I don't have time to read." (Hmm.)

4 Q: Do you like to read?
A: The woman walks up to the table. "What's going on here today?" (Authors turned concierge - we let her see the brochure and told her what she'd just missed. Oops, forgot the tip jar.)

3-2 Q: Do you like to read?
A: Two for one - Two women, one shakes her head, the other answers, "No, we don't read." (Birds of a feather…)

And the #1 most incredible answer of the day:

1 Q: Do you like to read?
A: "I like to read religious books. I read books by Rev. So and So. (I didn't get the name. Then I asked:)

Q: Do you read fiction?
A: "No, I wouldn't waste my time."

© 2008 C. Verstraete


  1. Oh this is so funny, unfortunately true - we used the same tactic at an open aire market earlier this summer got many of the same responses - the poor babies whose mothers do not read to them -- it's insane!
    I thought it was just our town - guess it must be more universal.

  2. Phew,that's good to hear, thought it was just us. ha! But then that's even worse isn't it?

  3. So, what kind of festival was this?? A "I Hate Reading Festival??"

    This is just sad!

  4. HAH! Oh, Chris, this was just priceless. Scary, but priceless. People who don't read are not ones I usually have in my circle of friends OR aquaintances...

  5. Just because people don't read, doesn't mean we can't write. Grammar Girl's books started out as podcasts. That entertainment vehicle would probably reach more of "those" people, with the readers being a smaller portion of your fan base. The writing and the story and maybe the message still gets "out there". I think it's important for each writer to remember that the actual writing can land on the recipient via different vehicles. This opens up many avenues and markets.

  6. Sadly, I do have friends who don't read. They seem perfectly normal, have children who are voracious readers, but they just don't.

    This past New Year's Eve, an exceptionally drunk woman, upon hearing that I am a writer, cornered me to ask how to get her daughters to write. I told her to get them reading and that might inspire them to write.
    "But they won't read," she said.
    "Well, what do you read?" I asked. "Maybe you can get them interested in some of your books."
    "Oh," she replied in a very slurred voice. "I don't read."

    It's one of those moments when you want to laugh and cry... before you stand in the middle of the table and launch into a tirade against ignorance.

  7. Okay, we need a better opening sentence or maybe a better follow-up sentence. "You don't read? Well, this book is perfect for you. I only wrote really small words." Or... "You don't read? Then this is the book you want. I'm such a big name author, your friends will be impressed just because you have this book on your coffee table." Or... "You don't read? This book's perfect then. You only have to buy it. I'm not one of those authors who check to see if you read it."

  8. Helen clever, very clever! (I like the small words comment!)

  9. I think the event coordinators should have put up a big warning sign by your table that said, "WARNING: Writers Up Ahead. They Want You to Read!"

    Valuable lesson learned though... don't try selling at that event next year! :)

  10. Never ask a question that can be answered with yes or no. Your blog is so scary. I hate to admit it, but my grandaughter doesn't read. My daughter reads 8-10 books a week, as does her son, but her daughter says, "It's silly to read something someone made up."
    She does like true stories though, so there's some hope.

  11. I plan on reading a book or two on vacation starting tomorrow!

    Morgan Mandel

  12. Hysterical and sad at the same time. Guess YOU were in the wrong place to hawk your wares! lol

  13. More original is my father. He is able to reply: " I know everything". While me,her daugher, need to read more and more.

    But it's more dangerous not reading or reading and have despite that a close mentality?

    Anyway, the Group Writing Project of Problogger is great. I've discovered your blog

  14. Holy Cow -- where were you? This is in a bookstore?! You need to come to someplace filled with readers -- like DC. Weird for sure.

    Oh, and I found you through ProBlogger's contest!

  15. Aw man. That's just... pitiful.


    All the best,
    Heather S. Ingemar

  16. I once got preached at during a signing. Explaining that I'm a Christian didn't slow him down one bit. Thankfully the store staff 'rescued' me. lol

    My fiance 'used' to read, he says. However on a trip to the beach this summer I took a picture of him laying out in the sun reading so now I have photographic evidence that he can!

  17. To be fair, this was not at a bookstore, it was at an outdoor dog-related event. But I did a Dachshund event later and got very good response. So not sure what was up?

  18. I don't believe that many people don't read. If I see someone coming at me while I'm shopping or out and about, I'm suspicious that they are trying to sell me something. I'm a patsy, so I'd lie and say I don't have time, too. My ex-husband always told me that someone could sell me a dog turd if they put a sale sticker on it. *lol* I'm pretty sure I could pass on that purchase. :)


  19. Came in via problogger.

    This is very, very sad. Do you think this might explain some of the behavior we see on the Internet, where people read the title of something only and then proceed to leave a comment?

  20. Haha, you should have asked him if he ever read Lewis or Tolkien...

  21. I must admit, I am one of those who put lesser effort in reading. But when I started to blog, I realized I have many things to catch up.

    Anyway, when I was inviting my off-line (non-blogger) friends to check out my blog and that we will get something good out of it.

    Guess the answer - I will only read that if you will tell me that I will earn money from doing so.

    I wonder if he is really my friend!

  22. Ha - great post! Sadly, it is the truth. That is why YouTube gets millions more visitors than Project Gutenberg, and why people will shell out $25+ for DVD's and cry when a great book costs them $7.99.

  23. Fascinasting survey. Thanks for sharing it!

    Loring Parks at More Fun Than A Silk Teddy

    A ProBlogger entry

  24. Wow, I can understand not reading because it gets tiresome, but some of these responses are the worst excuses I have ever read.


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