Yesterday I saw the ultimate bookmark. It contains a timer so that you can read for a set amount of time. It is the next big thing, I'm sure. Even more interesting was the statement at the bottom of the bookmark saying that you can read this timer in the dark. I'm not sure how you could read in the dark but with this bookmark, rest assured, you can time your reading and read your time--in the dark.
Writers, we must embrace this latest book accessory. How can we use this to our advantage? Think about it. If reading can and should be timed, then competitive reading is the next logical step. There are contests that award prizes for texting the fastest, for eating the fastest and for just walking the fastest. Kids are already conditioned to read for set amounts of time in school (Sustained Silent Reading, "Book-it," etc), so let's hook the adults too. let's take it to a whole new level.
While I think that those who have taken speed reading courses should automatically be considered "professionals," the amateur level is one that we need to target. Our books can be called anything from "training equipment" to "mental weight lifting." We can set up how hard it is to read our books fast on a competitive scale, after all, think how unfair it would be to pit someone reading Tolstoy against someone reading Seuss. We can market our books as "challenging" or "mid level," or advertise our work as the "Mt. Everest of competive reading." Who wouldn't buy THAT book?
We can forget the NY Times and Amazon reviewers and instead ask these competitors set the best time for reading our book and have the general public try to beat it. Which means they'd have to buy the book.
For years, we've tried to get the younger readers. We've been going at it the wrong way. It isn't what's in the book that's important, it's what we can do with the book. Do you think competitive eaters care about the taste of the food? Competitive readers won't care about the content either. In fact, the less interesting, the better, because that will make the book "harder" to read.
We can develop leagues, fantasy picks, and insist that our event be televised like the National Spelling Bee. So let's write for the competitive reader today. Let's support the timed reader with paid club memberships, local and regional tournaments and then sponsor this sport as a new Olympic event.
Ready? Set, go...team! P.S. I am willing to coach only if the salary is not capped.
Causes Teryl Cartwright Supports
United Methodist Committee on Relief, American Red Cross, Heifer Project, American Cancer Society, Doctors without Borders