Read it here: Bathroom provides a great escape

By Sonja Lewis

Cox News Service

ATLANTA -- A crude but delicious schoolyard put-down is "you lose IQ points every time you go to the bathroom."


But, in fact, the opposite may be true.


More than half of all Americans read in the bathroom. That suggests that people are filling their heads in the head. Or, at the very least, protecting their peace of mind.

"A bathroom without reading material is a great waste of private time that most women have so little of," said Sharon Dimino, 54. "Ring around the tush is a small price to pay for a quiet read."

So synonymous are bathrooms and reading that, when unable to sleep, Dimino heads for the loo to read until growing sleepy.

A growing market of publishers have discovered this privy-reading population.

Books created specifically and unabashedly for bathroom reading surfaced in the early 1980s. Many of the potty-publishing pioneers continue to churn out bathroom books every year. But in the past three years, a host of johnny-come-latelys have joined the movement.

There's "On the Throne With the King: The Ultimate Elvis Bathroom Book," "Greta Garbage's Outrageous Bathroom Book" and "The Mad (magazine) Bathroom Companion," Volumes 1 and 2. Last May, "The Little Inspirational Bathroom Bible Book" hit the shelves.

"People have finally figured it out," said Jennifer Massey of the Bathroom Readers' Institute, a promotional arm of the popular Uncle John's Bathroom Readers series. "There's millions of us out there. We've proved to the publishing industry it's a great big market."

The Uncle John's series debuted in 1988 and will soon publish its 15th annual edition. In 1995, 193,000 Bathroom Readers were sold; last year the number was 876,000.


Bathroom books are primarily trivia and snapshots of odd-but-true history, easily digestible at a single sitting.

Statistics show that more men than women practice restroom reading, though not by a huge margin -- 59 percent to 48 percent, according to a survey conducted last year by the National Association for Continence.

When the Bathroom Readers' Institute conducted a poll asking what people read in the bathroom -- other than its Uncle John books, of course -- it found that:

43 percent said they flip through a magazine.

18 percent peruse the ingredients on shampoo bottle labels.

17 percent read a novel.

11 percent browse through a newspaper.

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