According to a recently published article on Al Jazeera, bookstores are dying out across the globe, yet seem to be maintaining a presence in France. What makes the French so susceptible to the allure of reading? And what can we do to fall in love with reading again?
France is not an exception the rule – they too are struggling. Instead of lying down and becoming submissive to the technological craze, they’re fighting back in full force.
As early as the 1980s, the French government has been subtly working to protect independent booksellers. Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are also using the means available to them to protect French bookstores. The biggest contributor in the fight to save bookstores is the Centre National du Livre. Located within the Ministry of Culture and Communication, this administrative organization is capable of providing support independent booksellers need to stay afloat. The questions can then be raised- why does the United States, which spends more on education than most other countries, fall behind when it comes to traditional reading practices?
One answer (at least the one I’m privy to) is the e-book craze capturing the attention of the American people and refusing to let it go.
As the French bury their noses in books, Americans stare down at bright screens.
According to Patricia Greenfield, a UCLA professor of Psychology and Director the Children’s Digital Media Center in Los Angeles, “reading for pleasure, which has declined among young people in recent decades, enhances thinking and engages the imagination in a way that visual media such as video games and television do not.” Whether we realize it or not, the degradation of bookstores can be equated to the degradation of our youth.
This is not meant to be a call to action, but a call to awareness.
Technology is a great thing, but traditional books are treasures that shouldn’t be lost. We can follow the lead of the French and work to ensure the survival of independent booksellers. Writers, readers, and dreamers of all ages can benefit from falling in love with reading.