In 2012, a business associate proclaimed to me that, “print is dead” as she carried on in her predictions about the coming all digital age of media and advertising. Yet today there are more physical books in print than in any time in human history. Printed books have actually grown in volume since those proclamations. Jonathan Segura writes, “Despite a less-than-ideal environment—no breakout bestsellers on the adult fiction side and a lengthy, brutal election cycle that sucked nearly all of the air out of the cultural conversation—unit sales of print books were up 3.3% in 2016 over 2015. Total print unit sales hit 674 million, marking the third-straight year of growth, according to Nielsen BookScan, which tracks about 80% of print sales in the U.S.” (Segura 2017). Some estimates state that there were 2.7 Billion books printed in the US in 2016. So it seems that print is not quite dead yet.
In studying people of excellence over the last decade, one of the most recurring themes was the idea of continuous learning and in particular reading across a broad spectrum of interests. Research is showing that physical reading stimulates that brain in ways that other activities cannot and some are beginning to correlate this with reducing risk of disease later in life, such as Alzheimer’s. Consider just a few people throughout history:
- Benjamin Franklin was said to have self-educated through reading
- Mark Twain self-educated in public libraries, after age 11. He would go on to earn two honorary Doctorate Degrees
- Theodore Roosevelt was said to have read a book a day
- Bill Gates reportedly reads 50 books per year
In the “Book of Five Rings”, the legendary Samurai, Miyamoto Musashi once wrote that fundamental elements of excellence included:
“Take an interest in many arts”
“Know the ways of all professions”
It seems that one of the best ways to expand your knowledge and be exposed to new ideas is still to read across a variety of topics.
So what will you read in 2018??
Segura, J. (2017) Publishersweekly.com Print book sales rose again in 2016