History enthuiast Andrew Bellacomo, 15, enjoys using a Kindle for relevant reading material. New technology has kindled an interest for reading, whether electronically or in traditional form.
ALBANY, Ga. -- When April Graffam takes a break from her job at the Dougherty County Courthouse, she often sits outside on a bench. And reads.
Despite a growing concern in social media-mad 21st-century America that reading is becoming a lost art, Graffam is by no means alone in her love of the written word. In fact, area library officials say the emergence of electronic readers like the Kindle, iPad and Nook have actually stirred a renewed interest in books, though not necessarily in the traditional printed format.
"Generally, I think more people are reading because of the new technology," Lee County Library Director Claire Leavy said. "People will download a newer audiobook or e-book to read on their device and after reading that title will come into the library to check out older titles by the same author."
Like many of her fellow readers, Graffam, who works in the clerk of court's office, said it's a pastime she's always enjoyed.
"Friends used to laugh at me because I was always carrying around armloads of books," Graffam said. "I got a Kindle for the convenience -- it's lighter and more portable -- but I read traditional books, too. Reading's an escape for me."
Graffam, who says she enjoys mysteries such as author Lee Child's "Reacher" series, is currently reading former University of Florida (her alma mater) and NFL star Emmitt Smith's biography "Game On." She lists "Gone With the Wind" as her favorite book ever.
"I don't think reading's really any kind of lost art," she said. "I've got friends who are readers now who'd never picked up a book since they got out of high school."
Dougherty County Library Assistant Shandra Thomas agrees with both Graffam's and Leavy's assessment of modern-day readers.
"I've always loved reading, but I certainly don't think there's a drop-off in the number of readers today," the former educator who has worked at the local library for the past year-plus said. "There may not be as many reading hand-held books, but with devices like the Kindle, the iPhone and Droid there may actually be more people reading."
Newer studies, which would be impacted by the explosion of electronic reading devices, have not yet been released. But a 2008 study by the National Endowment for the Arts indicates young people are actually not reading more. In fact, the study found that only 30 percent of 13-year-olds read almost every day, and the number of 17-year-olds who never read for pleasure increased by 10 percent from 1984.
The study also found that almost half of Americans between the ages of 18 and 24 never read for pleasure. Sadly, the study found, that same age group watches between 2-2 1/2 hours of television a day.