Reading at Risk
Regarding "Publishers Hunt for Readers" (PW, Mar. 20), your readers should not think that I "backtracked somewhat"—or at all—from either the results of our Reading at Risk survey or from my presentation of it in the face of differing opinions.
What I did was clarify the numbers in context. The number of readers may have remained steady over 20 years, but as a percentage of the population, the survey shows that fewer and fewer Americans are reading literature. Though the study focuses on the reading rather than the publishing of books, surely the book industry should be concerned that we now have 40 million more nonreading Americans. More and more Americans are losing the skills of focused attention and contemplation that makes complex communications and insights possible.
While I am sincerely and deeply grateful to the publishing industry's support of the NEA's Big Read program, I want to be clear that I have complete confidence that the data in Reading at Risk are sound. DANA GIOIA, NEA CHAIRMAN
The profile of author Julia Alvarez (Mar. 27) was written by Marcela Valdes.
PW's 2005 bestseller list (Mar. 27, p. 22) listed several hardcover fiction titles in the wrong order. The Mermaid Chair is #7, Light from Heaven is #8 and The Historian is #9. (The order is correct on the table on p. 24.)