Monday, October 27, 2008

The Public Enemies of Books - No, Not the Ones You Think - O'Leary

No, no, by public enemies I don’t mean censors or book burners. I mean the increase in the number of communication activities we can choose among, while idle in public.

Take the Toronto subway, for example. It used to be that there wasn’t much to do while crossing town underground except read, knit, or listen to music. One can still do all that. But today one can also talk to friends on the cell, send and receive e-mail and text messages, watch videos on the i-pod, and read the free daily newspapers. The latter are just small enough and short enough to be convenient for a subway trip. Or, while waiting for a train, one can watch the rolling news headlines on what used to be a simple clock.

All these new activities compete for the time available for reading books, magazines, and newspapers offered for sale. The number of types of media has exploded but there are still only twenty-four hours in a day.

One outcome is that today’s writing must not only be good enough to compete with the row of ads around the car. It must be good enough to compete with interactive media as well.

And that requires a lot of thought and clever strategy on the part of writers, publishers, and booksellers.

© Denyse O'Leary

The item above is is one of the blog posts from Future Tense, The Word Guild’s new blog on transitions in the publishing industry.
Visit Future Tense often for regularly updated content.

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