Thursday, June 30, 2011

Why are e-books selling so well? - writing tip

Question: Why are e-books selling so well all of a sudden? The devices have been around for ten years and never caught on before. Suddenly books are hot, when you'd think with all the film and video venues around, THAT would be what's selling!!!

Answer: The newer Reading devices are MUCH less clumsy to use and easier to see than the older ones. They have all be created with reader convenience in mind. My first e-book cost $380, had a two inch screen, with liquid crystal display of black against dark gray, and was invisible altogether in strong light, with a battery life of about 2 hours. In addition, to buy a book, I had first to download it to my computer, then go through several steps to load it into the e-book for reading. Finally, the device's memory was so short that a long book had to be loaded in two separate files.

My Kindle cost $180 works anywhere a cell phone works, takes me straight to the online store for selection and downloads the chosen book right then and there. Takes less than a minute to get it, if I know what I want. I read a LOT and the battery life lasts 20 hours or so, for ME half a week. The onscreen display is black against light gray, about like newspaper print, and can be read outside in strong sunlight. No color, but no eye strain. The memory has more than 300 books in it and holds "up to 1500" books.

As to why reading is HOT, let me remind you that back in the 80s Marshall McLuhan said reading is the "hottest" medium, because it happens inside the reader's head and it's participatory. The author mentions a church, the reader's imagination creates one from the words. Each reader may create a slightly different church, but it will be unique to him. And participation is a satisfaction.

Reading goes directly from the page into the mind of the reader. In a movie theater, it's dark, but people behind you may be throwing popcorn, and so on, there are distractions. There's a world around you, though that's not as "cold" as watching TV where the lights are on and other people may be talking and so on. Neither of those requires participation.

Reading gives the reader more satisfaction than any other pursuit, except maybe sex. Well, good sex. Because it allows you to escape the world around you, and become one with the written word.

This is why, whatever technology may give us, the act of reading will always be popular.

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