Monday, 28 May 2012

YA fiction: Shameful Reading

According to this article, a survey of 1,863 people conducted in Britain this week suggests many e-book readers feel "freed" by the device to read books they would otherwise feel embarrassed about reading.

The survey indicates that

• 58% of people use the device to "hide" what they are reading
• 57% were hiding "children’s books"
• 34% were hiding erotic novels
• 26% were hiding sci-fi books

So, all but 1% who hid books, hid YA fiction (I am guessing it is YA fiction, not children's books like The Cat in the Hat since they say "children’s books, such as Harry Potter"), but only about half of those who hid books hid erotica or sci-fi.

From which we can gather that admitting to reading YA fiction is a bigger social faux pas than reading porn or sci-fi: that there is a stronger stigma associated with reading Harry Potter and The Hunger Games. Or perhaps, that readers of YA fiction are, in general, a much more furtive lot. Sneaky. Secretive.

But to continue:

An earlier poll of British readers found that a third of ebook readers are too embarrassed to reveal the truth about what they are reading. One in five said they would be so ashamed of their collection that if they were to lose their ebook reader they would not claim it back. But the results also showed that 71 per cent of books on the shelves of those who responded were autobiographies, political memoirs, and other non-fiction titles—but those categories accounted for just 14 per cent of e-books read by those surveyed.

(I think the word other could safely be dropped from the last sentence.)

So, 20% of e-book users are so ashamed of reading YA fiction/porn/sci-fi that they would pay a couple of hundred dollars to buy a new reader, rather than admit this deeply embarrassing fact. It would be interesting to know whether the same were true of non-e-book readers

Are 20% of all readers so anxious about being outed as YA fiction/porn/sci-fi readers? Or, are e-book readers, as a group, much more concerned what other people think about them, about the impression they are giving sitting, with their e-book reader in their lap, in front of shelves of political memoirs and non-fiction titles. Are they superficial, but vulnerable, poseurs?

For the record: I am presently re-reading The Hunger Games, spent three years studying erotica (and got to call it "research") and spent the best part of a decade reading nothing but sci-fi and horror. But then, I don't have a e-book reader.

1 comment:

Doc-in-Boots said...

Still kind of amazed by these surveys, as I see plenty of evidence of adults tweeting etc about such reading. Of course, it might be the circles in which I move!