Opining on the Written Word
A recent post by TED regarding the Kindle sparked my brain to think about the future of literature I had also discussed Amazon's forthcoming retail outlet, which had prompted me to also consider this. I have written about books many times on this site, as they are a personal passion of mine. I love both the literature as well as the actual experience of reading the book. I am interested in a iPad or Kindle in the future, but this would only be for mobile reading and the ability to carry multiple books at once. I have tried e-books in the past and always felt something was missing.
I feel my opinion is important and valuable to this discussion, because of my age. I am 24 years old, and many of my peers do not read for pleasure at all. Thanks to the fantastic technology that provides us 24 hour news coverage, a variety of television programming, movies, music and social media, literature lacks the exclusivity to a captive audience that it once had. Books are a time-consuming process especially compared to other forms of media. A movie is long if it takes 3 hours to watch, and a television show is crammed into 19 minutes (Yes Entourage, I am looking at you!). In comparison, a book can easily take a week to digest and oftentimes is full of above average vocabulary and a lack of visuals which makes it more of a mental chore.
For all of these reasons, I believe that literature will have to adapt, and may in the short term struggle. It is going to become a specialized market, not dissimilar to theatre, which was a major draw back in the day, opera, and a number of other leisure activities that have fallen behind the times. The TV networks have supplanted our need for a book series with well made shows like Mad Men, Breaking Bad, and Luck. All of these shows are intricate and sometimes command multiple viewings. The episodes are long enough that they can be digested for a period of time and discussed on the internet and at the office. Everything about books takes too long. It takes too long to read the book, you can watch an episode of Breaking Bad in an hour, and a season within a month, if you are trying. Thanks to streaming video this is possible anywhere on the globe! It takes too long for the next book in a series to get to market and requires a lot more physical production in the printing of the book, while an episode could essentially be released to the web and available instantaneously.
My generation simply does not like to read in the universal sense that our forefathers did. We are a now nation, with 140 character limits on Twitter, and status updates on Facebook. Epic books can be well over 500 pages in length! This is not to say a phenomenon like Hunger Games, Harry Potter or The Da Vinci Code can't become mainstream, but how many of your friends and family will never read the book and "just watch the movies"?