We have all probably heard the phrase, “So many books, so little time.” Or “So many fill-in-the-blank, so little time. But what does this look like by the numbers.
According to Fortune Magazine, the average life expectancy of Americans in 2018 was 78.7 years. Knowing this, how many books do you think you can realistically read over an entire lifetime?
Well, how fast do you read? How many do you want to read? What do you like to read?
Last year, I started using the free Goodreads app to track my books. I also do their annual Reading Challenge, which basically means setting a goal for the year and then tracking it. I personally average about a book every two or three weeks, mainly tracking novels, sprinkling in four or five picture books, half a dozen graphic novels, and I listened to It by Stephen King (which should count for 4 or 5 books IMHO). All together for 2019 translates to 30 to 40 books a year. With 52 weeks in a year, let’s say on the high end we are reading and finishing one book every two week, that would be 26 books a year.
If my average life expectancy is 78 years x 26 book = 2,028 books.
But both of my parents lived to 82 – so maybe I will too, which bring my total up to 82 x 26 = 2,132 books.
How many books are published each year?
If you Google how many books are published in a year, you will get various answers. One website, outthink group, reported 2009 publishing numbers from Bowker at 1,052,083 books. However, their site also estimates that over half or even as many as two-thirds of these books are self-published. At two-thirds, that still means that 347,187 books were traditionally published in 2009 – in just ONE YEAR — and all those books are competing for your attention.
How do people decide what to read?
The way a book gets to us as a chosen read varies. Here are my top methods for choosing my next read:
- Recommendation from a friend
- Listed on NY Times Bestseller list
- Placement at a bookstore on shelf
- Book is on another list somewhere
A survey by Book Baby with 200 respondents found three ways people choose books:
- Genre (60%) – Mystery, Sci-fi, YA, Middle grade, etc.
- Author (25%) – I can see how we might look for what’s next from a fave author.
- Review (2%) – I expected this category might be higher.
Whichever way you choose your next read, choose wisely. After all, there are SO MANY BOOKS, but so little time.