Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Reshaping Reading

STATUS: Contemplative.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? UNDER THE MILKY WAY by The Church

Today as I have spotty internet from my home connection (curses Qwest DSL and the fact that I can’t have cable broadband at my home), I can’t help but do a rant on digital technology and how that is reshaping the reading experience.

Today, in Deal Lunch, I read about two new eReaders—the Ditto Book E Ink Reader and a new reader by Vodafone Germany. (For those of you who might not have been to Europe lately, Vodafone is a big mobile phone provider across the pond.)

Lower price points and mobile phone eReader technology.

Then I read about Cory Doctorow’s serialization of MAKERS that’s going to be posted on Tor.com. Then I read about the Hachette Book Group’s initiative to offer free Open Access to a variety of books in their entirety via their website. And to top it off, Chris Anderson’s book FREE viewed by 17,000 people, well, for free via Scribd.

And here’s what I want to say about this. It’s not okay to cling to your Luddite ways. Even if you love the feel of a physical book in your hands and hate the idea of reading digitally, you need to branch out and give it a try.

From the start of my agency, I’ve always read electronically on my computer (tablet PC). Then I got the Kindle the year before last and now I’m reading both on my kindle and my iPhone. In fact, lately, it’s been rare that I’ve read an actual physical book.

And for me, the medium doesn’t matter. Only the story does. Now I know that’s not true necessarily for other people but this is where we are moving and you if you are a writer, you need to experience reading in these other mediums. Why? Because the next generation, I guarantee it, will not be as attached to the physical medium of a book. They are already more used to reading digitally in all kinds of ways—blogs, twitter, texts, books, instant chat, etc.

Books are transforming. They might be multimedia in the future—interactive in the digital form—which would shift how writers think about writing a novel or a memoir or a work of nonfiction. You can’t afford to ignore this.

You can already see the shifts happening.