Men Don’t Read – True or False?

Jason Pinter recently wrote an article for The Huffington Post arguing that the publishing industry is alienating men by solely marketing books toward women. As a former editor, he talks about the difficulty he had getting A Lion’s Tale by Chris Jericho (a professional wrestler) published. He writes:

Because if you’ve worked in publishing, you’ve heard the tired old maxim: Men Don’t Read. Try to acquire or sell a book aimed predominantly at men, and odds are you’ll be told Men Don’t Read. This story is not an isolated incident. And while the book I’m discussing is not everybody’s piece of cake, it is a microcosm of what I believe is a huge problem within the industry. If you keep telling yourself something, regardless of its validity, eventually you’ll begin to believe it. So because publishers rarely publish for men and don’t market towards men, somehow that equates to our entire gender having given up on the reading books. Hence the mantra ‘Men Don’t Read.’ THIS MUST END.

So is the idea that “men don’t read” just a myth? I have to say no. Ask any teacher or librarian and they will tell you that it much more difficult to get boys to read than girls. School Library Journal published an interesting article about this problem in 2004 called “Why Johnny Won’t Read” by Michael Sullivan. He writes:

Boys read comic books, baseball cards, and cereal boxes. They are less likely to read books; and when they do, they often don’t read the ones we want them to. There are many reasons for this, but the biggest one relates to role models. Boys identify with the men in their lives, and males, in general, don’t read as many books as women. A 1996 study by Donald Pottorff, Deborah Phelps-Zientarski, and Michelle Skovera (“Gender Perceptions of Elementary and Middle School Students About Literacy at Home and School” in the Journal of Research and Development in Education) shows that mothers are 10 times more likely to read books than fathers. On the other hand, dads are 10 times more likely to read newspapers than moms.

So why aren’t men reading? Pinter argues that it’s a vicious cycle—that publishers don’t think men read, so they don’t market books toward them, which results in even fewer men reading. I think the key issue is getting boys to read at a young age. If parents, teachers, and librarians can find the right book for a child at the right time, they will become a lifelong reader.

So what do you think? Do the men in your life like to read? Do you think women are more likely to buy books than men? Leave a comment below!

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