There’s a bit of a writer’s meme starting to make the rounds where writers talk about how they consume books. Given we write them, you can expect we’d also be big consumers. Hugh Howey started it off here and Joanna Penn chimed in here. And no, I won’t be making a video about my reading. :-)
A long time ago, on another blog – now electronic chaff – I wrote how books wouldn’t disappear but the technology of producing and consuming would morph over time. In my thought process, no technology ever disappears but rather it changes from “introduction” to “mass consumer” to “art form” over time.
In the long term, the future will take care of itself and I have no idea what this will be.
If I were guessing, I’d suggest the entire notion of “book” will disappear into history to be replaced by physical stimulation and visual immersion technologies. We see this with the beginning of online gaming and 3-d visual technologies. Add in direct physical hookups (now existing on small experimental scales) and you have an experience that’s far more involving than any book.
Physical reading will be for historians and writing will be for scripts and concepts. And yes, there will always be those who prefer the art of reading versus the mass consumer form of information or entertainment consumption.
In the near term, what the balance of hard-copy paper books to electronic books will be is unknown but I suspect it will vary by genre. Basic fiction stories are perfect for electronic reading but unless another new technology comes along, the non-fiction book dependent on high-quality images will likely remain in paper form. Think romance or science fiction novel versus an encyclopedia of plant cultivars if you want a clearer sense of what I mean here. There are ways to create a perfectly useable online encyclopedia but this doesn’t yet translate in any usable or economic format to the electronic reader that works well enough to use.
But we’re in the beginning stages for adoption of this electronic reading format and your guess about the future is as good as mine.
My Personal Reading Is A Dog’s Breakfast of Choices
Personally, I run a mix of hard-copy and electronic books.
The bulk of my newly-purchased fiction books are electronic although I do buy hard copies now and then. (insert wry smile here) I have Howey’s “Wool” in electronic format but bought all three in the series on hard copy. I received Fraser’s “The Complete McAuslan” in hard copy for Christmas but then purchased his first “Flashman” book in electronic format.
If there was a trend, it would be that I experiment with new fiction writers in electronic format and decide if I want to read them or collect them. If only reading, they remain electronic but if, for some unknown reason, I’d like to add them to my considerable library, I purchase hard copies.
Non-fiction that is well out of my current understanding is purchased in hard copy because I (being of an age) seem to learn better with something physical in my hand that slows me down. This slower speed gives my brain a chance to integrate what’s on the page into its memory cache. I celebrated this fall because (reading Hawking’s “A Brief History of Time”) I finally puzzled through what E=MC2 really means.
But I did it in hard-copy form. I’m currently reading Grossman’s “On Killing” (a book about the effects on those tasked with killing) on my iPad because I’m more familiar with psychological writing than science theory.
All my “how-to” writing or “writer marketing” ebooks are electronic.
My book collecting is completely hard copy (I’m working on Tom Swift Jr.) and I delight in the feel and sense of the written word and fragile page.
My Kindle app on my iPad holds the books I’m reading or planning to – currently 18 – and all others are deleted from the device and stored on the Amazon cloud, (over 200 are stored up there.)
All of this means I’m (like a lot of folks I suspect) am in transition and read whatever seems to make sense at the moment.