“Men don’t read.”
How often have I heard that in the past five years? A lot. Also: “Boy’s don’t read.”
I’ve been challenging this statement, not because I believe it’s false, but because it makes no sense. Who says men don’t read?
So within the last year, I’ve gone on a hole-poking expedition.
Me: “Who says men don’t read?”
Answer: “Uh, don’t know.”
Me: “I think your conclusion is based on a lack of evidence.”
Online, it goes like this:
“Men don’t read.”
Me: “I assert there is a lack of evidence to support your conclusion. Prove it.”
Answer: “Here’s a NEA poll/paper. Here’s a Gallup Poll.”
Me: “I assert the NEA is a flawed research body prone to inaccuracies because scientific research is not their major function. And that Gallup Poll was from 1994. Do you have any recent, cross-referenced, non-politically biased data to support your conclusion?”
Answer: “Here’s a more recent AP-Ipsos poll!”
Me: “Of only 1000 adults, over the phone.”
Me: “Do you answer a caller ID that you don’t recognize?”
Answer: “No. So what? There is an error sample rate.”
Me: "What’s the difference between the reading habits of people who don’t answer blind phone calls or only have a cell phone and do not receive poll calls, and the reading habits of people who talk to strangers over the phone?"
Answer: “I don’t know.”
Me: “Nobody knows. Oh, and that poll doesn't back up that statement, it only says more women than men who took part in the survey read on a regular basis. And the poll is about book reading, not reading in general. Oh and...”
Now, I have anecdotal evidence from multiple sources that say men aren’t buying books. Several bookstore employees have personally told me, from multiple bookstores, that over the years they are losing male buyers and gaining female buyers.
And I believe them.
But that’s buying, not reading.
Here’s some other anecdotal evidence:
- Every single one of my male friends read books
- All these adult men purchase books
- All these adult men, including myself, purchase books online from either Amazon or B&N
- SINCE 1999. Every. Single. Male. Friend. For over a decade.
Now, if someone would point to me data revealing the sex of most of Amazon’s or B&N’s book buyers, I would really love to see that data.
I do buy books at a bookstore. But, like my adult male friends, this is a very small percentage of my book purchasing dollars.
But again, we’re talking about buying, not reading.
Anecdotal means “based on anecdotes or hearsay: consisting of or based on secondhand accounts rather than firsthand knowledge or experience or scientific investigation.”
Here’s my assertions:
- I believe publishing industry people when they say men aren’t buying their books
- I believe my male friends buy many books through Amazon and B&N
- I believe the NEA is not a trustworthy source of scientific based research
- I believe phone polling of reading habits is fundamentally flawed
- I believe correlation does not imply causation
- I do not believe people who tell me men/boy’s don’t read
What do you believe about men and reading habits?
And if you have any real data, I would love to see it!