Thought Catalog

How consumer culture, identity politics and a narrowing class of readers are changing how we approach novels.

America doesn’t place much emphasis on reading. We sell a lot of books, but study after study shows that regardless of genre or format, the same people are buying most of them. It’s never been easier to isolate America’s reading demographic: recent studies show most of our bookworms were born either during the Baby Boomer or Y generations, they come from households earning at least $50K a year, and there’s a 25% better chance that they’re female. That’s a lot of people, but it’s a far cry from what reading audiences looked like sixty years ago. Readers are becoming an increasingly identifiable, increasingly tight-knit sect. We’re basically one giant book club.

Reading is hardly a national pastime. A growing percentage of us — about a fourth of all Americans age 16 and older…

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