A Site For All Ages
When I started this site in 1878 I never thought it would last thing long. A blog about books, how original. And we can use it to flog your tawdry output, said the publisher’s PR. Oh, and we’ll want full access to it.
The result was the Bryant & May website, disastrous from Day One, peppered with plugs and content popping up from nowhere. I closed it down and set up this one, without worrying about parameters or demographics or advertising books. My only concern was to provide you with author access.
I did not cater to a particular age group. Outside certain genres, long-tail authors tend to draw their own ages (something to do with shared memories, no doubt). Although I wrote many novels of a feistier, more zeitgeisty nature they aged faster. The Bryant & May series appeals to more mature readers – the comment I get most is ‘My parents love your series’, which gives me a clue that they haven’t read ‘Soho Black’ or ‘Spanky’ or ‘The Master Builder’.
I had not intended this. I figured, a story is a story. But I’m suspect there aren’t many younger readers, even though I’m mindful of language and tone (Sherlock Holmes remained family fare until Anthony Horowitz misjudgedly brought paedophilia into ‘The House of Silk’.)
My sentence construction can be a little more demanding than crime fiction’s usual default setting. I know that, and it’s deliberate. Now there may be an explanation for the demographic appeal – and with it comes proof that older readers are better readers.
In one of the largest studies ever undertaken into national intelligence, new research from Imperial College London shows that your way with words doesn’t decline with age – the traditional graph has become rather different. Literary faculties now decline as we pass from young adulthood to middle age, but linguistic ability increases well into the 70s and 80s.
The surprising results are to be broadcast on BBC’s Horizon show on May 4, and are expected to show that the change has occurred due to the harmful long-term effects of social media. The association between stress and social media is actively hampering IQ so that 40 year-olds have the puzzle-solving abilities of 12 year-olds. Although Milennials read, they choose very little fiction.
It was previously thought that the total number of words people know declines from age 50 onwards, but older readers have completely upturned the theory. They may eventually be the only ones who get mental access to more complex written word. Experience, curiosity, a preference for deep reading over swiping and browsing, all play their part.
And from the School of the Bleeding Obvious comes a list of ways to improve the 40s lit-dip, from better diet (Mediterranean, basically – fruits, nuts, protein, fish, olive oil), more exercise and reading an awful lot more books.
So you see, in a way, this was about flogging my books after all.