This blog is about reading rather than writing. In particular, e-reading. I’m not talking about how e-books are outselling paper books, how you can carry a library in your pocket, or how and why you should be getting your work out there into everyone’s e-device. This is about how e-readers are transforming the basic experience of reading. Those changes are inevitably going to transform what is getting read, and consequently what will get written.
Taking the Content Out of Literary Fashion Accessory
I live in a college town—where you are what you read. Books are literally part of a person’s image. I have known people to conspicuously carry around ‘serious’ books (think Dostoevsky or Nietzche) that they are not really reading so they will ‘look’ smart. E-readers change that game. They display no indication of the book’s literary content, only the material, color, and pattern of the e-reader and its accessorizing cover. This limits the ability of books to stand visually as an expression of individual literary tastes and thoughts. Will this reduce the readership for serious books? Will it generate more conversations, since instead of being able to tell ‘at a glance’ what someone is reading, people might have to ask (or text) each other?
No More Guilt.
E-readers don’t reveal whether they are displaying a romance, a history, a work on philosophy, a radical call to arms, or an idiot’s guide to something technical that every five year old already knows. This privacy, even in public, has an enormous potential to remove the guilt from ‘guilty pleasures.’ That liberation, in turn, will boost sales of any book that fits someone’s definition of ‘guilty’ pleasure—be it erotica, romance, mysteries, thrillers, rightwing or left-wing political material, etc.