Fifteen Minutes a Day

When I first entered publishing, back when dinosaurs roamed the earth, the folks at InterVarsity Press had a slogan for a reading program they were promoting: “Fifteen Minutes a Day Is Fifteen Books a Year.” The idea was that if you could give on average fifteen minutes a day to reading, over the course of a year you could read fifteen books.

Having been a math major (yes, even though I’ve spent most of my career in editorial, I was a math major–but that’s another story), I, well, did the math. Even for someone like me who was (and is) a very slow reader, doing about 250-plus words a minute, and maybe only reading five days out of every week, that’s still fifteen two-hundred page books. I found that very encouraging.

With a modest investment of time I could enrich and entertain myself with novels, self-help, history and a variety of other genres. I didn’t have to carve out huge blocks of time to get something done.

The sad truth is that about half the adults in the United States don’t even read one book a year. A sadder truth is that even many people in the book publishing industry do not read books. I know because they have told me so. OK, so maybe that’s not a big deal for people in accounting. But people in editorial, marketing and sales departments have told me this.

For personal development, reading is hard to beat. For professional publishing development, reading is essential.