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Saturday, 5 February 2011

Reading is the new rock and roll

Reports are that there has been a spike in sales of children's eBooks, leading some to speculate that the electronic revolution is luring kids away from the TV's and computer games as they read books on their cool new devices. If these reports are true then this is indeed good news and bodes well for the future of the book, electronic or otherwise. And it's not only the children as adults also find these new fangled gadgets irresistible.

Though I suppose it's only logical that people should be reading at the moment. After all more and more are being enticed into buying eReaders, and after spending some pretty handy dosh on one of these gadgets the natural thing to do is buy a few eBooks. Maybe after the novelty wears off some of these eReaders will be stuffed into a drawer and ignored. But some no doubt, people who had gotten out of the reading habit, will be snared for life.

At the moment reading is being presented as cool - think of the flashy Kindle television advertising campaign and the way the product is being presented. All those cool and crucially youthful people reading. And it's not only the Kindle that is being pushed at the hip folk - Sony's excellent range of readers are advertised in lifestyle magazines. No stuffy, pipe smoking academics sitting by an open fire with a leather bound hardback on their knees. Reading's not about that any-more - reading is the new rock and roll.

And amidst all this reading, many publishers are running around like headless chickens instead of embracing the new medium. They are worried about the traditional  form of publishing vanishing, they are terrified of this new business model. Admittedly many have come around and are releasing their books in both print and electronic formats. Others like Leisure have gone the whole hog and now virtually publish all of their mass market books electronically. Eventually the eBook market will settle down and will generate income. I have no doubt that some of the larger established publishing houses will see their importance dwindle as the new upstarts take risks and produce books that will create their own market. Nothing can stand still forever and now is the time for experiment.

One of the most lucrative markets at the moment is in the Young Adult, or YA, genre, but then it's a pretty flexible genre and can (and does) encompass romance, horror, crime, comedy and pretty much everything else. It is also to this demographic that the various eReaders are being most vigorously pushed.

But at the end of the day, when all is said and done and not to put too fine a point on it, it's not really about the electronic gadgets. It's about the stories, the characters and the imaginary worlds. It's about writers giving readers want they want, which leads to some interesting speculation about what kind of fiction will boom next...your guess is as good as mine!

1 comment:

Charles Gramlich said...

Let us hope so. Good news indeed.