People keep saying that Kindle, even more than other reading devices, has revitalized the book industry, making books affordable and reading more accessible. They say the market is expanding, that people who never read are now interested in books. But is this true? Are they interested in reading, or are they interested in playing the Kindle game, downloading books as fast as possible to fill their new toy?
One reason people always gave for not reading is that they don’t have time. Do people suddenly have huge extra blocks of time to read, to get into a book, to explore new ways of thinking and experience new ways of being? I think not. It seems that reading is now part of the multi-tasking generation, where you read while doing something else. Is this reading? People say that reading is not a solitary activity any more, that new enhanced reading apps make it social. If so, is this really reading?
The other half of the Kindle game is the author game, where selling as many books as possible, is all that matters. Whether people actually read the book is immaterial. Of course, the major publishers started this game a long time ago, this game of sales records, and now it’s been taken to the people where anyone can play. But that doesn’t mean the books being sold then or now are worth reading.
When I mentioned in a comment to a fellow blogger that Amazon was a major publisher, she corrected me and said it was a sales platform, like using WordPress. It’s a perfect analogy, and it explains an unusual phenomenon — my rapidly increasing blog rating. It always used to hang around 3,500,000 on Alexa.com, but suddenly, for no reason I could see (my readership is growing, but not enough to explain a leap in rankings), my blog began increasing in rank, and now it’s at 929,990 (out of 346 million sites). Are blogs disappearing (or falling off the scale) because people are now uploading things for Kindle that they once posted on their blogs? If so, then books are being devalued to the level of a bloggerie.
Makes me wonder if I’ll ever take up writing again.
But for now, if you are playing the Kindle game, all my books are available both in print and in ebook format. You can get them online at Second Wind Publishing, Amazon, B&N and Smashwords. Smashwords is great! The books are available in all ebook formats, including palm reading devices, and you can download the first 20-30% free.
This is the third post where I’ve been mulling over the current state of the book business. The other two are: Is the Book Business Dying? and First the Bread Wars, Now the Book Wars.
December 26, 2011 at 8:14 pm
I sort of think it’s also a matter of you can easily slip your kindle in your purse whereas a book didn’t used to fit as well. I don’t know if that’s reading or what, but when I read I do it pretty well. Though, I read most of Dracula in little snatches of 15-30 minutes while waiting for a person in a car every day for a month. *shrug*
December 26, 2011 at 9:13 pm
You’re doing better than me. I never made it through Dracula.
December 26, 2011 at 8:52 pm
Great post thanks. I really enjoyed it very much. You have an excellent blog here.
December 27, 2011 at 12:12 am
I, too, take my Kindle in my purse so I can read when I might have a few minutes. I used to take a book but if it was a hardback or a thick paperback it was harder to tote around.
You said: Makes me wonder if I’ll ever take up writing again.
I think it would be a huge mistake for you to decide to not write another book or ten. Kindle, new ways of buying and selling books, new ways of publishing…these things are going to always be changing. New tech breeds even newer tech.
But if we lose our talented writers we lose so much. So while you might be taking a long break please don’t stop altogether. I need some more Bertrams to read down the road. And only you can write those.
December 27, 2011 at 8:35 am
If people don’t buy or read the books of talented people but buy the junk by the millions of copies, then what’s the point?
December 27, 2011 at 8:17 am
I love my Kindle. For people who like to read, it has only made it better. For one thing, the size of the book doesn’t matter, you only need one hand and don’t have to hold up heavy books anymore. You can read a newspaper easily on a crowded train without hitting the person next to you if you turn the page. It’s so wonderful on a vacation, don’t have to pack half a suitcase of books now.
What I don’t understand is people reading a book on a cell phone. How many words can you get on the screen? Doesn’t that chop up the content?
People who multi-task and don’t focus on what they’re reading probably did the same thing with paper books.
December 27, 2011 at 8:31 am
Ah, but you are a reader, Mickey. You probably read the books you download. I have no objection to the tool. It’s the game that worries me.
December 27, 2011 at 9:45 am
But surely, as in the past, many people buy books they “intend” to read and don’t ever read them? We all know people who have shelves of books they would like to read. Maybe if they read them 5 minutes at a time now it’s better than not reading them at all? I don’t know. As for selling books, that’s always been a painful game.
December 27, 2011 at 10:43 am
I don’t know either. Don’t know much of anything, actually. Just mulling things over.