Why it doesn’t bother me that I can’t share Kindle books

I read a lot of books. And probably 75% of the time I’m reading a book, I think of someone I’d like to recommend the book to. I used to loan copies of books to people, or even buy them a copy if I thought it was particularly good. But then I got a Kindle, and at first I was a little bummed because I can’t share books anymore. However, a friend today pointed out something that I hadn’t ever stopped to consider: are all those books I was loaning out and gifting being read? The cold, hard truth is no, they’re probably not. Most people aren’t readers; they don’t have the attention span to read a full book. The statistics on literacy in the United States are appalling:

  • 1/3 of high school graduates never read another book for the rest of their lives.
  • 42 percent of college graduates never read another book after college. (!!!)
  • 80 percent of U.S. families did not buy or read a book last year. (!!!)
  • 70 percent of U.S. adults have not been in a bookstore in the last five years.
  • 57 percent of new books are not read to completion.

And even if they are readers, they might just not be interested. So while I always felt good about giving books to others, I wonder if it really made any difference. I’m still free to recommend books to others, and I do so constantly. They might not go read them, but I’ve realized that if the hassle of going to get the book is too much to overcome, reading it is also probably too much to overcome. And that reminded me of a very appropriate quote:

“Is it advisable to spread out all the conveniences of culture before people to whom a few steps up a stair to a library is a sufficient deterrent from reading?”
~Ayn Rand (The Fountainhead)