Without a doubt, technology today is changing the way we read. Today, we have access to thousands of e-books and other resources on a wide range of topics just at the mere click of a button. Dr Google has the answers to everything we desire to know about. Not only has this become the most practical and efficient thing to do in the fast-paced lives of today, but it is also less time-consuming. According to a report by Pew Research Center, the number of e-reader users has risen from 17% in 2011 to 28% in 2016 in the U.S. But the book lovers have no reason to worry as paperbacks and hard-bounds have their own niche and their own audience.
Short Attention Spans
Use of technology has resulted in shorter attention spans of the people in today’s times. We have gotten accustomed to skimming through the articles and sometimes jump from one tab to the other in case one article fails to pique our interest. We completely reject an opinion in an article even before we have read the first paragraph. We are so blinded by our own opinions that it’s convenient to stick to our own belief systems. We read web pages in a hurried pattern, where we stop at the headline that grasps our attention, scroll down a bit, get distracted by the multiple pop-up ads or links in the text or simply finish it unread at times. In addition to the shorter attention spans that don’t let us read the entire article at one go, the tablets and smartphones also break our chain of thoughts and concentration with their constant notifications or work emails or phone calls.
Reading is becoming a lost art for many of us. We simply can’t seem to read or devote as much time to it as we would some years ago. There are a lot of other distractions that command our attention today like TV, gaming, surfing the internet, engaging on social media, and using other gadgets, etc.
In an article in the New York Times, the famous author James Patterson and his publisher Hachette talked about how they planned to sell more books to people who had given up reading in favor of TV. Mr Patterson planned on making the books shorter, cheaper, more plot-driven and widely available. This would help in gathering a newer audience and also create new distribution possibilities. Many readers are developing a taste for shorter and crisper digital content and this would appeal to such masses.
Libraries Are Changing With Times
It’s not like libraries are dying today, but for them to survive, they need to keep up with the pace of the technological world or they might become forgotten. People still use the libraries to borrow books, but what has changed over the course of many years is the time an individual now spends in a library to actually read those books. People no longer spend hours going through the bookshelves to discover the next book they might want to read. The libraries are coming up with their websites that have online facilities where a reader can simply reserve the book he or she wishes to read and then collect them at a later point in time. Libraries are increasingly being used to organize lectures, cultural and other communicative events. Today’s generation comprises of Book Communities and Book Reading Challenges and libraries are being used to hold these interactive sessions.
Tech Redefining Literature
Does this mean this is an end of the Dickensian era? Well, not really. There will always be an audience who would still want to immerse themselves in the classic books by eminent authors like Leo Tolstoy, Shakespeare, or Ernest Hemingway. And for those of us who wish to read these classics but somehow can’t make ourselves read through the mammoth sizes of the books, there are sites like dailylit.com that let you read such literary classics in short instalments so you can read them at your own convenience and at your own intervals. Keeping up with the times that we are in, a lot of authors are also targeting the digital medium to reach a wider base. Publishers are experimenting with short stories, serialized fiction and mid-range ‘e-only’ books. Everyone seems to be evolving in the post-Kindle times of today to feed the reading patterns of the readers.
Despite the fact that a change in the air is noticeable all around the book lovers today, the degree of this change remains firmly under the reader’s control. The innovative ways in which the content is being written and distributed today may have major repercussions for the literary scene in the future. Technology is changing our reading expectations but we need to use it wisely so as to gain the maximum benefit.