Wednesday News: Reading, publishing, listening, and speaking
28% of Americans Have Not Read a Book in the Past Year – They announce this headline like it’s a scandal, but I don’t think it’s all that bad. Especially if we admit that cultural literacy (and basic literacy) don’t necessarily require the consumption of books. Of course, if you’re a reader, you can’t imagine that, but do comics count as books? Anyway, one thing that did kind of surprise me in a good way is the number of millennials who are reading:
What’s perhaps surprising about American readership is how youthful it is: 80% of those aged 18 to 29 report reading a book in the last 12 months, compared to 71% of those in the 30 to 49 range, 68% in the 50 to 64 bracket and 69% of senior citizens. Women tend to read more than men (14 books compared to 9 books, respectively, in the past year), and there is a correlation between education level and quantity of books read. – Time
The PW Publishing Industry Salary Survey 2015: A Younger Workforce, Still Predominantly White – Given the strength of a younger readership, it may be no surprise that the publishing industry is getting a bit younger, too (although let’s face it – younger workers tend to be cheaper, too). And diversity is still gravely lacking, both in plurality and number, and it does not appear from the statistics, at least, that publishers are making any effort to diversify their workforces. Which is frustrating on so very many levels.
The median age of those who responded to the 2014 survey was 35, down from 42 in 2013. The median number of years respondents have worked in publishing fell from 13 in 2013 to nine last year, with marked changes in the percentage of respondents with fewer than three years’ experience (up from 8% to 19%) and in the share of the workforce made up of the most experienced employees (18% of respondents had worked in the industry for 21 years or more in 2014, down from 25% in 2013). The declining share of experienced employees was certainly a major factor in reducing the average compensation for both men and women: average compensation for men fell from $85,000 in 2013 to $70,000 last year, and from just under $61,000 to $51,000 for women.
If publishers are indeed recruiting a new generation of employees, they do not appear to be hiring minorities. The share of survey respondents who identified themselves as white/Caucasian was 89% in 2014, the same as in the previous year. Asians remained the second-largest ethnic group within publishing, accounting for 5% of respondents in 2014, up from 3% the previous year. With the survey finding no real change in the racial composition of the workforce, it is no surprise that only 21% of respondents felt that strides had been made in diversifying the industry’s workforce in 2014. A much higher percentage, however, said they believe the industry has made progress in publishing titles by nonwhite authors and titles aimed at more diverse readers. – Publishers Weekly
THE LOST ART OF LISTENING – A very interesting piece on the growing “irrelevance” of classical music in the cultural mainstream, its aging audience, and perception as ‘snobbish’ or esoteric Classical musician Anna Goldsworthy talks about the features of classical music that, she argues, are unique, the way it “trains the ear” and the brain to pay attention and “listen deeply.” On the other hand, she points out that the arguments that classical music are dying are not exactly new, so is this just a phase in the long history of listening and composing, or is Goldsworthy’s fear that we will simply become disconnected from the work of composers like Beethoven prescient?
Banished from the mainstream, classical music gets drafted into the luxury industry, becoming, in Taruskin’s words, an “upscale niche product”. It is the image problem of Bronwyn Bishop arriving at the opera via limousine or what Mark Latham describes as the “jewellery-rattling rows of the Opera House”. Certain concert presenters cultivate this demographic, marketing classical music as proof of taste or discernment. “It’s all part of beautiful living,” a woman gushed to me earlier this year, at an “exclusive chamber music weekend” in a winery, after one of Beethoven’s eviscerating late quartets. . . .
In the 19th century and the first part of the 20th, the piano was the spiritual hearth of the middle-class home: a gathering point and (as Jane Austen testified) the location of interminable recitals. This is not some distant European custom, but part of our own heritage. At the start of the 20th century, Australia boasted the greatest number of pianos per capita of any country in the world. They were a symbol of affluence and aspiration, but they also represented cultural continuity in a world in flux. Many people who loved Beethoven’s symphonies or Verdi’s operas never heard them performed live, but experienced them in a drawing room in an arrangement for four hands. Music was designed to be read and touched as much as listened to, a tradition that dates back to Bach’s collection of solo keyboard music, The Well-Tempered Clavier, created as a “pastime of those already skilled in this study”; in the 19th century, with the industrialisation of the printing press, sheet music became more readily available, and piano miniatures designed for the amateur flooded the market. – The Monthly
Infographic of Facts About the Languages of the Star Wars Films – An appealing infographic mapping the eight languages of the Star Wars universe. – Mental Floss