7 Reasons for Children to Spend Time Reading Instead of Gaming

philareads.org

This is a guest post from Cassie at Culture Coverage. She asks the question: Why should kids spend more time reading than Video Gaming? Here’s her article:

I would like to thank Sam Ramirez Friedman for sharing this article on his website. He’s helped many authors and potential authors learn about the publishing process, and I’d especially like to recommend his tips on Kickstarter and Wattpad.

Since video games first became popular people have been having heated debates about whether children should or shouldn’t spend hours playing them. While there are excellent arguments both for and against letting children play video games, one thing is certain: reading has more benefits than playing video games.

  1. Reading Improves Academic Performance

For decades parents have been telling their children to read more to improve their school grades, and it turns out that they’ve been right all along. Reading has been shown to improve children’s overall academic performance, as well as their performance in specific areas such as vocabulary, math, reasoning and long-term memory skills. That isn’t to say that playing video games doesn’t have any benefits, but in terms of academic performance, the benefits of reading far outweigh the benefits of playing video games.

  1. Reading Develops Imagination

When children play video games, they don’t need to imagine what things look or sound like as everything is on the screen in front of them. However, not all books have pictures, and none have sounds, so children need to use their imaginations to bring the story to life. Even picture books only depict certain scenes, so children still need to use their imaginations to a large degree. While graphic novels have more pictures than normal books, they still require imagination, and they’re an excellent way to introduce children to reading. Books also encourage children to imagine other things that video games don’t, such as smells and tastes.

  1. Reading Enhances Communication Skills

Communication skills are vital to children’s social development, and reading is an easy way to help children improve these skills. When children read they need to pay attention and comprehend what they’re reading, and both of these activities are essential for effective communication. Children who read books also have better vocabularies and phonology skills than children who don’t spend time reading books.

  1. Reading Reduces Screen Time

It’s undeniable that many children spend way too much of their time in front of screens of some sort. From television to computers to smartphones, children may spend hours each day staring blankly at a screen. Encouraging children to read books dramatically reduces the time they spend watching screens. There is one caveat though: many children prefer to read on e-readers. Nevertheless, reading a book on an e-reader is still reading, so it’s better to let children read books on an e-reader than have them not read at all.

  1. Reading Leads to Better Sleep

Everyone needs to get enough sleep to function well, and this is especially true of children. Many video games are fast-paced and frenetic, which may overstimulate children before bedtime. This will make it much harder for them to fall asleep and also disrupt the sleep they do get. Screens also give off a lot of blue light that can disrupt circadian rhythms at night. Reading a book may be exciting, but it certainly won’t provide as much stimulation as a video game. So, reading is a fun and healthy way for children to relax before bed.

  1. Reading Provides Delayed Gratification

Video games are usually fast paced and provide immediate gratification, whereas books require patience and time to finish. This teaches children about delayed gratification, which helps them understand that many things are worth waiting for and take time and patience to attain. The ability to delay gratification is one of the most important skills that children will ever learn, as it leads to greater success in school and later life.

  1. Reading is Safer

Many of the most popular video games are multiplayer online games, and this means children may interact with anonymous strangers who could be dangerous. Unfortunately, some child predators use multiplayer online games to contact children. If children do play multiplayer video games online, it’s important for parents to supervise them. Using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to hide children’s personal information also helps to keep them safe. Thankfully, books don’t pose this problem and parents can let their children read unsupervised.

Clearly, there are many reasons why every child should put down their video game controller and pick up a book, so tell us about any we’ve missed by posting a comment below.

About the Author: Cassie is a writer and entertainment blogger who is a self-confessed bibliophile. She hopes this post will inspire you to encourage your children to spend more time reading. She can be reached at cassie@culturecoverage.com

Nielsen says: More Dead Trees Coming

A recent blogpost by Joe Wikert, Director of Strategy and Business Development at Olive Software, recaps data from Nielsen Bookscan on the reading habits of Americans. Here is Joe’s analysis:

Self-publishing and the Big Five are crowding out everyone else – According to Nielsen’s data, from Q1 2014 to Q1 2015, self-published books have grown from 14% to 18% of the overall market. In that same period the Big Five’s share has grown from 28% to 37%. Meanwhile, the rest of the market, all the large, medium and tiny publishers, have seen their share decrease from 58% to 45%.

The print/e split is now roughly 74%/26% – Plenty of articles have been written about the plateauing ebook market. Most publishers report ebooks represent anywhere from 15% to 30% or so of total revenue. According to Nielsen, the current state of equilibrium is closer to a 74%/26% split. That ratio varies widely by genre, btw, but it’s worth looking at your own rate to see how it compares to the overall industry average.

Price drives ebook interest – According to Nielsen’s consumer survey, almost 60% of respondents said they’d choose e over p if the savings is at least $4 for the former. Additionally, approximately 50% said they’d do the same even if the ebook is only $2-3 cheaper than the print version. So as publishers wrestle back consumer pricing via the new agency model, driving ebook prices up, it’s clear they’re inadvertently (and sometimes deliberately) nudging consumers back to print.

Consumer prefer print and e, not or – 49% of consumers surveyed said they bought print and ebooks in the past 6 months vs. 42% who only bought print and a paltry 9% who only bought e. Just because a consumer buys ebooks doesn’t mean they’ve abandoned print. This is a huge opportunity most publishers are overlooking. Why aren’t there more digital products that complement print rather than assume the ebook is replacing the print one?

Amazon dominates subscriptions too – It’s been hard to find data on the all-you-can-read ebook subscription market but Nielsen is finally shining some light on the model. And just as they do pretty much everywhere else, Amazon is crushing it. First of all, according to Nielsen only 5% of consumers have signed up for any ebook subscription solution, so the market remains small. Kindle Unlimited led the way with the largest chunk of market share, jumping from approximately 40% in January 2015 to almost 60% in April. Scribd and Oyster were tiny players by comparison in that period, and they’re only getting smaller. Given their teensy share of a small segment, it’s no wonder Oyster is going away soon.

Let’s add that many e-books do not have ISBN numbers and their sales don’t count. If they were, the share of self-published would be higher, between 20-25% of all sales. The takeaway here is the squeeze smaller companies are holding, every single publisher that isn’t the Big Five or one of their imprints. This is worrying, because most publishers are not big corporations or their subsidiaries. If the trend continues, you will see a gap between the select few who get a major publishing contract, and those who self-publish. Those who pursue an indie publisher could wind up at a disadvantage down the road.

Like most people, I prefer print books, but I’m more likely to buy e-books. Why? I spend all day on screens, and print books are essentially my “escape”. With non-fiction, I like being able to physically have information I may need later. Anecdotally, most people I know who are not avid readers prefer print to e-books, though nearly all own some type of e-reader (includes smartphones).

The publishers are overpricing most e-books, and it’s pretty clear they want to protect paper sales. That’s partly why paper is still strong- most people figure for $15 they should just get the paperback. Personally, I think that’s a mistake- the e-book ought to complement the print book, not compete against it. If self-published e-books continue to rise, this model may change as publishers much charge a price comparable to an indie-published book, which means growth in e-books.

Subscription models are the new model of business for many distributors, whether or not they’re good for content creators. Increasingly, consumers expect to get a buffet at their business of choice, paying a flat rate for all the products they can consume. The problem is, not all subscription models are sustainable, and many content creators (rightfully) object to some of the practices by the distributors, namely in how little the creator gets compensated while the distributor keeps most of the money. To be fair, a lot of authors have complained about this with the traditional publishing model too, and it is a legitimate topic of discussion.

The conclusion: Continue to write e-books, but don’t stop killing those trees just yet. A lot of readers want them for their books, including yours.

Author interview: Francis Powell, the Interesting Chap

If you don’t know Francis Powell, you should. He is an interesting chap, a man who attending a British boarding school NOT named Hogwarts and, like Harry Potter, didn’t have a great time for the most part. He is published by Savant Books and was kind enough to speak with me.

S: First tell us what made you want to be a writer and what prompted you to write Flight of Destiny.

F: I moved to a remote village in Austria. It was not far from Vienna, but a very oppressive and strange environment. I thought I should try writing a book. I launched into it…nothing came of it. I do many creative activities, painting as well as writing music. Writing lay dormant, put to one side. Then later, living in Paris at this point in time, via an advert, I made contact with a man called Alan Clark, who had a literary magazine called “Rat Mort” (dead rat).  I submitted four short stories for this magazine, encouraged by Alan, I began to write more and more short stories, and developed a style…When I had a stock of short stories, it seemed logical to try to put them all together and find a publisher.

S: Your novel is actually a collection of 22 short stories, but the kind of world you create is described as “reflections of a parallel, but darker, often fatalistic noir that proceeds quite independently by its own machinations to grind away at the grist of humanity for what appears to be no apparent reason.” I read some of your stories and they just drove me crazy, with how sharp you twist your writing, especially near the end. What was the motivation for your style?

F: I suppose I like the idea of writing  a short story in the same way a fisherman might fish, enticing and luring a reader then hooking them (I am against all forms of hunting by the way).  I suppose with my style I like to play a bit with the reader, lay false trails…to tantalize readers, and then at the end of the story turn the story around with his unexpected twist, which is the ultimate aim with this type of short story.

Like with other creative activities, painting for example, often a painter tries different styles before they truly develop their own style.  Sometimes this style can come about due to an accident, or coming across something that leaves a deep impression on  them…for example the painter Francis Bacon, in his early career had an obsession with Picasso,  his horrific images came about having bought a second hand book of diseases of the mouth, added to the fact that he greatly admired Eisenstein‘s Battleship Potemkin,‪ particularly the scene of the nurse screaming on the Odessa steps.  Why are my stories so dark?  Perhaps writing is for me a bit cathartic and I need to draw out my deep dark thoughts, some of which have been latent over a period of time.  I like creating and developing despicable characters…this seems to quite easily for me.   We live in this horribly cruel world, full of people who are oppressed, for one reason or another …and this runs through my stories.  There is a kind of social commentary that runs through some my short stories…One of the good things that came out of my education was studying Vanity Fair, by William Makepeace Thackeray  and his character Becky Sharpe, archetypal  social climber. I think my stories are very “British” in character. It is true to say , I have many motivations behind my writing.

S: Would you ever experiment with a style of writing that isn’t dark?

F: I always love a challenge, but it might be hard, I have tried writing Children’s stories and even they turned out a bit “dark” however children seem to like dark stories.  To write a story, with a happy beginning, happy characters, and happy ending, it could be possible, I would have be very disciplined. I do a lot of blogging and enjoy writing factual articles, which require research.  It is great to learn new things.

S: You talked about Roald Dahl’s Kiss Kiss as having an influence on your writing. Was he your favorite British author, or did you have another one who influenced you the most?

F: I love the work of Rupert Thomson, who wrote “Dreams of leaving” as well as other books. I met him when I was a new student at Art College and he and his writing has made a long lasting impression on me.

S: We want to know: Why did you not enjoy your time in boarding school?

F: For me it was a bit like doing a stint in prison…in fact people sent to boarding schools, during the period I was there, easily adapt to prison.  There was twelve in a dormitory, you never have time for yourself.  You had to match all the conventions of such an institution or you would be become an outsider and quickly become the victim of all kinds of abuse.  Most of the boys were destined to join the military, or go into comfortable nine to five jobs…there were a few artistic/creative types, but these were few and far between.  Then there were the punishments, most of which are outlawed in this day and age.  Running up a hill, without a shirt, whatever the weather, then having a cold shower, was supposed to toughen you up.  If you were caught smoking for example you would be caned.  Boarding schools are supposed to be character building, but mine just affected me in this negative way.

S: Was your childhood an easy one, or a rough one, in your view? (minus boarding school)

F: My childhood was dominated by Boarding School, however I had some wonderful holidays in Cornwall. However compared to many childhoods, mine was not an easy one…

S: Have you ever been flattered by a comparison to a well-known author or by a review?*

F: An editor compared my work to a re-incarnated Edgar Alan Poe.

S:You have a traditionally published novel, although with a smaller press. Why did you choose Savant Books to publish your book?

F: I guess I encountered Savant by chance. They showed an interest in my work.

S: For all our readers and writers who never got a book published with an actual publisher, take us through the process from the time they acquired your novel until publication.

F: It is a long drawn out process…for me it was complicated by the fact that I am British, my publisher American, so different spelling, grammar, ideas came into play.  E-Mails were sent over a period of three years, shaping a reshaping the book. I must say I was a real novice concerning this process of editing and polishing and proofing. A writer thinks about stories, and the precious sentences they have put in their book, a book publisher thinks about readers, selling books, reaching a certain market.
S:What are some future projects you’re working on?

F: At the moment it is full on promotion of my book Flight of Destiny.  I would love a follow up to it, I have reserve of stories lying in wait.

Follow Francis on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/flightofdestinyshortstories

Watch his awesome video on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AlV2tHTnM4Q

Purchase on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Flight-Destiny-Francis-H-Powell/dp/0988664097/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

Purchase from Savant books directly: savantbooksandpublications.com

The Traditional Publisher’s Revenge: Turns out Publishing with Amazon has Drawbacks, too

cartoon credit: Dan Wasserman, Boston Globe. Distributed by the Tribune Content Agency.

On December 27 the New York Times ran an article called “Amazon offers all you can eat books: Authors turn up noses”. The problem starts with a new Amazon program called Kindle Unlimited, which allows readers a.k.a customers to buy into a monthly membership for $9.99 to get unlimited access to a wide range of titles. Needless to say, this is great for avid readers and for Amazon, who gets people to use their services, but a bad deal for authors who depend on selling books even if only for $0.99 a copy.

From the article: (bold emphasis mine)

“Authors are upset with Amazon. Again.

For much of the last year, mainstream novelists were furious that Amazon was discouraging the sale of some titles in its confrontation with the publisher Hachette over e-books.

Now self-published writers, who owe much of their audience to the retailer’s publishing platform, are unhappy.

One problem is too much competition. But a new complaint is about Kindle Unlimited, a new Amazon subscription service that offers access to 700,000 books — both self-published and traditionally published — for $9.99 a month.

It may bring in readers, but the writers say they earn less. And in interviews and online forums, they have voiced their complaints.

For romance and mystery novelists who embraced digital technology, loved chatting up their fans and wrote really, really fast, the last few years have been a golden age. Fiction underwent a boom unseen since the postwar era, when seemingly every liberal arts major set his sights on the Great American Novel.

Now, though, the world has more stories than it needs or wants to pay for. In 2010, Amazon had 600,000 e-books in its Kindle store. Today it has more than three million. The number of books on Smashwords, which distributes self-published writers, grew 20 percent last year. The number of free books rose by one-third.

Revenue from e-books leveled off in 2013 at $3 billion after increasing nearly 50 percent in 2012, according to BookStats. But Kindle Unlimited is making the glut worse, some writers say.

The program has the same all-you-can-eat business model as Spotify in music, Netflix in video and the book start-ups Oyster and Scribd. Consumers feast on these services, which can offer new artists a wider audience than they ever could have found before the digital era.

Holly Ward, who writes romances under the name H.M. Ward, has much the same complaint about Kindle Unlimited. After two months in the program, she said, her income dropped 75 percent. “I couldn’t wait and watch things plummet further,” she said on a Kindle discussion board. She immediately left the program. Kindle Unlimited is not mandatory, but writers fear that if they do not participate, their books will not be promoted.

One major point of contention: Kindle Unlimited generally requires self-published writers to be exclusive, closing off the possibility of sales through Apple, Barnes & Noble and other platforms. (Ms. Ward was an exception.)

Amazon usually gives self-published writers 70 percent of what a book earns, which means a novel selling for $4.99 yields $3.50. This is much more than traditional publishers pay, a fact that Amazon frequently points out.