Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Are Your Reading Habits Changing?

One of the issues that was discussed during the recent Frankfurt Book Fair was the way our reading habits are changing along with our daily lives.

What did your life look like ten years ago?

How much time are you spending on a computer today compared to ten years ago?

Ten years ago, I was already chained to email at work. But I was not using my computer at home anywhere near as much as I do today. Back then, my computer at home was a desktop. Today it is a laptop. I had dial-up service then. I have high-speed wireless today.

Ten years ago, I had a PDA (personal digital assistant), but I used it mostly as a portable telephone directory and to take notes or write myself a reminder. Back then, my cell phone was just a cell phone.

Ten years ago, I probably read a book a week--sometimes more--year-in, year-out. I would estimate that today my reading quota is half that, maybe even less.

Bookchain sales are down, although Internet sales and e-book sales are on the rise. My experience mirrors that trend. I now buy a higher percentage of my books online--both print and e-books.

I also buy more anthologies, novellas and books that allow me to read in discrete chunks. Right now there is a horror anthology sitting on the passenger seat of my car. I keep it there so that, when I have a few minutes, I can read a short story. Last night at 8 PM I stopped at Panera to have a bowl of soup and an iced green tea on my way home from work and read my third story in the book.

I’m saying all this prior to mentioning a service I first heard about on GalleyCat nearly a year ago here.

DailyLit.com offers both public domain and copyrighted works for free and for sale in small chunks by email or RSS feed.

When I first read about the service last December, I thought it was an interesting novelty. They have since delivered their 250,000th read to one of their 125,000 subscribers. And I’ve become one of those subscribers, receiving an email every night at midnight for reading during the following day. Right now, I’m reading The Brand You50 by Tom Peters.

This is exactly what Mike Shatzkin was talking about last week at the Frankfurt Book Fair when he referred to “chunking” or the trend of breaking up intellectual property into its component bits of content.

Take a look at this brief article on “How Users Read on the Web” here, and we’ll talk more tomorrow.

1 comment:

Stephen Parrish said...

I used to finish every novel I'd started, no matter how bogged down it got. Now I read the first chapter, and if it doesn't grab me I discard the book. Then I apply the same standard to subsequent chapters. There are too many books being published nowadays, and life is too short.