Tuesday, January 27, 2015

The Future of Reading - for Writers and Readers

With all the changes we’ve seen recently we may well ask what will the reading of the future be like?

Who knows? I sure don’t. But, I’m an experimenter. I got one of those first clunky EReaders a few years back before Amazon and Barnes & Noble and Apple’s iPads  and wide spread PDFs.  Now I have a Kindle HDX 8.9.  Who knew?

Books are great, don’t get me wrong. I still love paper books and I don’t care if there are claims of a ‘war on paper books’.  Personally I think they’ll be around forever in one form or another even if they become ‘collectibles’.

I mean I suspect a lot of writers are publishing their books not only to Ebook format but to print on demand as well. Let’s face it, you can’t put your Ebooks on the shelf. And, for many writers it’s an inspiration to see those books on the shelf. I know I enjoy glancing across my study and seeing the line of books I’ve written and had published traditionally or self, marching across the book shelf in orderly fashion.

There are lots of readers who feel the same way and not just the ‘old fogies’ from years gone by who won’t let go of the ‘old way’.  There are simply many people who enjoy holding that book in their hands and turning the pages, maybe with feet up in front of a fire or just curled up in a chair our out on the beach.

On the other hand think about how much of the reading you do you now do online or on a tablet or even on your phone. Business, articles, magazines and yes, more and more fiction.  E-reading has joined the mainstream.

Heck, think of the convenience of Ebooks. If you travel you can pack up literally dozens of books for your pleasure or business in one small reader you can tuck in your carry-on.  On top of that Ebooks are generally less expensive than paper books (though with some super popular authors you could debate that). Don’t forget the ‘instant gratification’ of the download. You don’t have to order the book and wait for it, it simply appears on your reader after purchase.

There’s also the fact that Ebooks now have all sorts of bells and whistles. You can adjust the size of text. The reader is lit softly so you can read easily in low light. Many, like the Kindle, can also download a music library so you can listen to your favorite music (probably with headphones) while you read your favorite author.

Come on, really, how can the even most die-hard paper book proponent deny the convenience and say no to e-readers?

Not only all that, but I can see the potential where all of this could lead to people reading more and that would be a great thing. How do I get that? Well, think about it. If you run around with your tablet or smart phone your reading material is always in your pocket or purse, plus access to much more. Bored? Read a bit. At a doctor’s appointment and he’s running late – read. Bored on a subway or bus? Read. And there are lots of promotional low cost and free books and articles, even magazines to supplement your favorites you would willingly pay premium for to keep your reading queue full up.

And if you’re a writer, what a boon. You can carry your phone or tablet, read at will and even surf the web for research or fun. You can make notes to yourself on the run and email them to yourself about future projects or writing ideas. Then you can go back to your reading.

So yep, there’s a revolution going on, but I see no reason why the ‘what has been’ won’t blend with ‘what is to come’, sort of like an oil slick swirling on top of water.

And yes, there are things to be better worked out such as with my Kindle – they really need to provide a better way of organizing the books we buy. Right now it’s sort of in on big virtual heap and you have to scroll through to find a particular book. You can do minimal organizing, but it really needs to be in such a way as to allow the consumer to separate fiction from non-fiction, biography from business – and even sub categories like type of fiction; western, romance, SciFi, whatever. My books are organized by category on my shelf. I want the ability to do the same with Ebooks.  C’mon Geeks let’s get this sorted out.

So, tell me how you feel about the book revolution – how you’re utilizing it, or not. Do you take a reader traveling or are you still toting paper books? Or do you use your phone, tablet, whatever just for games and communication? And check out the links below if you’re interested in where we’ve been and where we’re going.

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