Good article over at the Huffington Post by Hugh McGuire. This particular sentence jumped out at me.
“After a day on the web, it’s often hard to get my brain to switch back to the slowness needed to read a novel or deeper text.”
When I was in school, I read all of the time. I had a 50 minute bus ride to and from school. The bus driver played country music, so my only defense was to go to my ‘happy place’. That happy place was Narnia, Middle Earth, Xanth, and Shannara, not to mention the endless depths of space. I had an entire hour to read, inturrupted only every once in a while by Tony Norr stopping by and giving me the obligatory knuckle noogie.
But lately I’ve found myself with less and less large blocks of time to read. I used to watch movies with my wife at night to relax. Then we found that even 2 hours was difficult to manage. We’ve switched to 50 or 24 minute television shows on Hulu more to our liking.
It’s hard to pick up a book like Anathem (960 pages) and read it in 8 minute chunks from now until 2012.
And it’s worse for our kids. They don’t even like to watch a 30 minute TV show, instead watching 4 minute clips on YouTube.
I feel that McGuire makes two important points in his article.
“This is why I think that ebooks & mobile devices are so important to the publishing business: ebooks allow me to read at times & in areas when I wouldn’t otherwise be reading.”
“The worry I have with high prices/abusive DRM terms etc for ebooks is that the business will price itself out of a new market space while watching (in horror) as the traditional market shrinks in the face of the gazillions of other things people can do these days to pass their time.”
The RIAA and the MPAA have both gone through these growing pains, and the publishing industry is just now starting to do the same. In my opinion the RIAA really fouled things up, while the MPAA only sort of fouled things up. It’s my hope that publishers and authors can do a better job, but I’m not holding my breath. After seeing the authors guild sue Google and hinting at suing Amazon, I fear that we are going to make the same mistakes all over again. As McGuire says:
“The job of the publishing business is going to be to find more ways to make it easier for people like me to read. And it seems with ebook pricing & DRM, the publishing biz just want to make it harder for me to do so.
“And that can’t be a winning strategy.”