Thursday, December 3, 2009

Of nooks, Vooks and the Changing World of Books

A few days ago, I blogged about my reading slump. I’ve been picking up a lot of newish paranormal books and some contemporaries but I’m not seeing anything really unique and new (save for my fellow PRomantics upcoming works ;-)). In talking with my mentor, I find that a lot of these are books that have been in the back burner of publisher queues (aka legacy) and is just now being released all at once. But there’s a deeper problem as well.

The sameness is safe.

A recent Publisher’s Weekly article talked about this and the comments were really telling. Thus, reading book after book gets tiring if every story seems just like the last.

At the same time, my reading hasn’t stopped. I'm addicted to publishing related news sites like Pub Weekly, Huffington Post’s publishing section, blogs like Teleread, Booksquare and my new favorite podcast On the Media. I read tons of things on the internet and some great fiction from my fellow author friends who look for crits. But pleasure reading as I used to do as a kid has changed dramatically with the new changes.

It got me thinking about the future of the book. There’s no doubt that things are changing in the industry and it seems like it all charged ahead in just the last few months. With this generation’s e-readers fast becoming the new “it” toy of this year’s Christmas rush, a new trend in reading will begin.

What else will change? As things become even faster paced, I wonder how our reading will change. It’s already been said that the next generation of e-readers will be nothing like this generation’s. Will we see readers than can double as audio books? Barnes & Noble's nook is in high demand so much that orders are on hold. Amazon's Kindle and Sony's eReader continues to be popular among ebook lovers. The Vook (yes, a portmanteau for “video” and “book”) recently launched with the iPhone and as a web version. I’m not sure I, as a reader, would jive with this because of the fact that I use different neurons for watching tv than I do for reading a book, but I’m sure an audience is out there somewhere. Netbooks, tablets (Apple, do you have something up your sleeve over there?) and the continued sophistication of cell phones are becoming strong competitors for ebook devices. All of this, along with my own current experience, makes me believe that there still are a bunch of people reading in some way or another. Just maybe not books and not in the numbers they used to, which is a bummer.

(In considering all of this, one small part of me muses over the fact that everyone is preoccupied with how the books will be read rather than trying to get more folks to focus on telling a darn good story. But I digress.)

Social networking sites like Goodreads, Shelfari and LibraryThing are bridging the gap between authors and their readers so instant feedback on newly released works are immediate along with excerpts giveaways and other reader goodies. Reading has become a community focus again. Maybe we'll see a surge of reading groups with youths. Laptops are being given to some school kids in Canadian schools and ebook readers are being handed out in others, both with the curriculum's books inside. We know how we're going to read. Maybe we can now focus on what to read and how to bring those to readers.

Bob Stein of The Institute for the Future introduces his view of how things will be once the shift occurs.

Do you see your reading habits changing in the near future? Any future e-readers on the list who have one of the gadgets on their wishlist?


s7anna said...

Hey Rae,
I'm already a huge ebook reader and I want an e-book reader really really BAD! LOL I currently read on my macbook and I want the comfort and portability of a dedicated ebook device so that I can curl up and read just as I would with a print book. I've been reading more and more ebooks for the last couple of years and I already have a huge library...over a 1000+ and growing...I still buy print but not as much as I do ebooks.

Happy Reading
Anna Shah Hoque

J Hali said...

I read mostly ebooks now on my mini comp and love it. Plus I can do much more with it and it travels in my purse!

Rebecca Royce said...

I have a Kindle and I'm obsessed with it. LOL

Annie Nicholas said...

An ebook reader is on my xmas list. :)

I view the ebook as the future. I watch my children with their nintendo ds and the functions they do with it. Amazing. Especially the way the schools push enviromental causes. Paper will be a thing of the past.

RKCharron said...

Hi :)
Thank you for such a thoughtful intriguing post. I think ebooks will be a majority of the market but there will always be a market for paper books. Without electricity or batteries where would we be for reading if it were all ebooks?
Books do change though as time goes on. Look at the style of books just a hundred years ago. So much extraneous detail and booooring non-essentials.
I am a readaholic though.
All the best,

Sandra Sookoo said...

E-books are the future and it's coming quickly. I can't wait to get an e-reader. :-)

Rae Lori said...

Anna, I so agree. I'm finding myself leaning more toward ebooks on my Blackberry. It's a bit smallish but I'm aiming to get an ereader myself one day. Here's hoping one comes your way soon so you can read in comfort. :-)

J, I so agree! You can take a bunch anywhere and not break a nail. Lol. It's awesome and great for variety. :-)

Rebecca, ooh! I hear those are awesome! Good deal! I don't blame you at all. Lol

Annie, here's hoping you get a nice one in a few weeks! :-D Yeah, I so agree. Many schools are going digital and I would have loved to have it back when I was in school rather than lugging around those large books!

Thanks RK! That's so true. I don't think paperbacks will completely go out of style but they may become more a collector's item as people read their digital copies more. I still love the look of books on my shelf and often by a paperback copy if I enjoy the digital. Things are definitely changing and it'll be interesting to see where they will be in a few years!

Sandi, I so agree. I can't wait myself! I wonder how sophisticated ebooks will be in the near future. It's an exciting time! :-D