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Okay, I’ll admit: The headline here is clickbait.
But here’s a data point which I think exonerates Donald J. Trump — if, in fact, he needs exoneration — from any charges of diminishing the culture. (I’m not trying to dive into the Trump vs. GOPe argument. I’m just trying to run a business here. I want people to read this post, think about the data point I’m writing about, and then join Ricochet.)
The good news for the publishers is that print sales erosion — at least for the moment — seems to have been stopped … A variety of industry and company sales statistics seem persuasive on that point. The percentage of revenues coming from ebooks for big publishers has declined and the sales of print have risen. And there is even some anecdotal evidence suggesting that bookstore retail shelf space is increasing again.
Oh, wow, great! They’re printing books again, and what’s even better: People are buying books! Not just ebooks, but book books.
But wait. Not so fast. A few days later came this clarification:
The other challenge was a pushback against my claim that print book sales overall are rising. The commenter pointed out that more than the entire print book sales increase shown in industry stats can be accounted for by the rise in sales of adult coloring books, a category which has taken a big leap forward in the past 12 months. For one thing, it is impossible to predict with any accuracy whether or for how long those sales will sustain. But, more importantly, the sales of print that do not include adult coloring books, which have no ebook equivalents and are the good fortune of a few selected companies, are still declining.
Go ahead, read that again: Book sales are rising, but that’s only because of the popularity of something called adult coloring books.
We now have a population of adults who buy coloring books. For themselves. To color in. Because, I guess, real books are too hard? Chapter books are complicated? They need something to do while Netflix is buffering?
There’s lots of talk about the infantilization of grown-ups. Lots of talk about the “dumbing-down” of American culture.
But those verbs seem too passive to capture what’s really happening. Grown-ups are not being infantilized. They’re actively behaving — choosing to behave — like children. The culture is not being dumbed-down. People, Americans, of all shapes and sizes and colors and creeds are doing the dumbing. It’s self-cretinization at a massive scale.
And that isn’t Trump’s fault.