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Will Writers Overtake Readers?


I do believe writers will someday overtake readers if they haven't already, but my reasons for believing this are different from the OP.

Humanity has always and probably always will enjoy stories, but frankly most kids these days get their stories not from written literature but from movies, TV, video games, or maybe comic books. Unfortunately all of these latter media require more money, resources, and various artistic skills than the majority of young people possess. On the other hand any ignoramus with a word processor can type out a few sentences. Ergo, you have a lot of kids in this generation who set out to be writers not because they have any inherent love for literature, but because writing looks easier and more economical than Hollywood, game design, or the comics industry.

Of course there are still plenty of young people who read (otherwise you wouldn't have all these movies adapted from popular YA novels), and of course anyone who actually has writing experience can tell you that it's not as easy as it may appear.


Myself I don't think that readers will ever overtake writers but that's because I have a more narrow definition of writers than many may do. For example while I myself can and do put together shorter pieces of fiction I wouldn't call myself an author untill I'm professionally publiced.

But if you mean that anyone who writes some sort of fiction in any kind of form and under any circumstances, then yes, writers hav probably overtaken readers by now. But since writers also tends to be readers it might even out anyway.


Myth Weaver

Well this is a depressing thread. I would say only that its not really a one on one match. One who reads can read faster than one who writes can create. So one person can read many more books than one writer can create. And while the total number of written works increases. Some/many fade into oblivion. Not sure what it all means. I dont need many to like my work. Just enough of some to make it a profitable exercise. It would suck to put in all the effort for no one to see.



Hail to you, Necromancer. Why have thou summoned this thread from the sleep of death?
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Myth Weaver
It is interesting to look at this question eight years later and I think it's safe to say that the answer is no, at least for the time being.

I've also had a lot of conversations with readers, and to be frank, the greatest number of them, self-professed avid readers, don't see themselves as writers. Everybody has a story in their head, but putting that down on paper (computer) and doing it well is another beast. Booktok and other book-themed social media demonstrate the novel as being alive and well, and despite the ease of publishing, most—normal, sane—folks don't seem inclined to take that step.


Myth Weaver
Or do we just wait for AI tech to improve even further?

Not sure we can stop the approach of AI. There is a bit of it out there now, and already its impressive.

Hey, but maybe AI will want to buy and read my stuff so...


Troglodytic Trouvère
Article Team
I don't see the rise of AI as a competitor as at all likely. I've played around with AI "writing" apps and so far they're incapable of even making two successive sentences make sense, let alone an entire novel's worth of text. To my mind, the only way for an AI to ever write convincing prose is for it to either 1. Be heavily guided by a human writer, or 2. Be equipped with the equivalent of a human brain. In both cases you end up with, effectively, a human writer being the source of the product. Thus, nothing would have changed in the grand scheme of things. The only difference is that some of our writers possess more screws and bolts than others.

And as for writers overtaking readers, the last 8 years have proven that we have nothing to worry about. Echoing Demesnedenoir, the amount of people willing to put in the years-long effort of becoming less than crummy at writing and finish a novel worth reading is small as can be. You'll always have more people daydreaming about doing something than actually doing it, simply due to a scarcity of time, energy and willpower.

Lastly, on the OP's "Only other poets read poetry" .... well ain't that the truth haha.
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I think Brandon Sanderson proved that the written word isn't dead when he created the biggest Kickstarter of all time with a bunch of books. It is still very much alive and kicking. And when I look at my own kids (7 and 5), they still very much like reading. There is still something magical about diving into a fantastical world. Yes, there is competition from all other forms of media, but it's not a zero-sum game. Someone can like both movies, computer games, and books.

I don't see the rise of AI as a competitor as at all likely. I've played around with AI "writing" apps and so far they're incapable of even making two successive sentences make sense, let alone an entire novel's worth of text
First they came for the cover-artists, and I did nothing, because I'm not a cover artist.
Then they came for the editors, and I did nothing, because I'm not an editor.
Then they came for the writers, and by that time there was no one left to speak up for me...

I think the first two are reasonably easy to get decent results with AI. Cover art follows a lot of genre rules and trends. Same with editors. As long as you don't mind sounding like a generic writer AI can help you craft sentences. Writing a whole novel is harder, simply because the internal logic is much more important. It's not just within a single sentence, but between chapters and even between books. I think getting to that level is still a long way off. That doesn't mean we're far away from AI assisted novels, where an author creates the idea and what needs to happen in a paragraph, and the AI fills in the blanks and does part of the editing. It probably wont get you any literary prizes. But if your aim is to get generic stories out fast, then I can definitely see it happening.


It depends what you mean by a 'writer'.

If you have written something on facebook and someone else reads it - you are technically a writer. You might not be a pro, but you wrote something, you published it and an audience read it.

There can never be more writers than readers because all writers will also read.

At the end of the day, there will always be a need for writers as long as people like reading. Writers are also one of the few happy professions that can't be replaced by AI. Yes you get auto-content generation tools - but they are rubbish except for the more workhorse bog standard content (and potentially dangerous if you don't keep an eye on them). But strong creative content? Only a human writer can produce that.

AI assisted novels? Don't hold your breath on that one. Maybe someday BUT by that time we will have self aware robots walking around the place. So, not until I Robot is real.