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carried on to the end of March, 1898).
The readers who use the Birmingham Free Lending Libraries are
about 30,000 in number; they consist very largely of young people
between the ages of 14 and 25; somewhat less than half are women.
Certainly we seem to have here a good field for the determination
of this question. The monthly figures for each of the ten
Birmingham libraries are given separately, and it is clear at a
glance that without exception the maximum number of readers of
prose-fiction at all the libraries during 1897-98 is found in the
month of March. (I have chiefly taken into consideration the
figures for 1897-98; the figures for 1896 are somewhat abnormal
and irregular, probably owing to a decrease in readers,
attributed to increased activity in trade, and partly to a
disturbing influence caused by the opening of a large new library
in the course of the year, suddenly increasing the number of
readers, and drafting off borrowers from some of the other
libraries.) Not only so, but there is a second, or autumnal
climax, almost equaling the spring climax, and occuring with
equal certainty, appearing during 1897-98 either in October or
November, and during 1896, constantly in October. Thus, the
periodicity of the rate of consumption of prose-fiction
corresponds with the periodicity which is found to occur in the
conception rate and in sexual ecbolic manifestations.
It is necessary, however, to examine somewhat more closely the
tables presented in these reports, and to compare the rate of the
consumption of novels with that of other classes of literature.
In the first place, if, instead of merely considering the
consumption of novels per month, we make allowance for the
varying length of the months, and consider the average _daily_
consumption per month, the supremacy of March at once vanishes.
February is really the month during which most novels were read
during the first quarter of 1898, except at two libraries, where
February and March are equal. The result is similar if we
ascertain the daily averages for the first quarter in 1897,
while, in 1896 (which, however, as I have already remarked, is a
rather abnormal year), the daily average for March in many of the
libraries falls below that for January, as well as for February.
Again, when we turn to the other classes of books, we find that
this predominance which February possesses, and to some extent
shares with March and January, by no means exclusively applies to
novels. It is not only shared by both music and poetry,--which
would fit in well with the assumption of a sexual _nisus_,--but
the department of "history, biography, voyages, and travels"
shares it also with considerable regularity; so, also, does that
of "arts, sciences, and natural history," and it is quite well
marked in "theology, moral philosophy, etc.," and in "juvenile
literature." We even have to admit that the promptings of the
sexual instinct bring an increased body of visitors to the
reference library (where there are no novels), for here, also,
both the spring and autumnal climaxes are quite distinct.
Certainly this theory carries us a little too far.
The main factor in producing this very marked annual periodicity
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