Content in the Digital Age: Books

In the last ten years the entertainment industries have seen radical sweeping change, and I don’t just mean entertainment industries as in only movies and music. I mean it in a more broad expression closer to the term “content”. Basically all types of media and information that can be consumed via digital mediums have been affected by this mass influx of people getting plugged in. With the digital age now in full swing and the advent of the always connected personal media devices like Smart Phones & Tablets in everyone’s pocket at all times. The way we consume content has drastically changed and so has the value you we give to said content.

Books:  While not the first industry to get hit the hardest by the digital age of content consumption, the classic book publishing and retail business has now been hit like never before. Companies are having extremely difficult times keeping stores open due to large drop off in retail book sales. This year the Borders chain of bookstores filed for bankruptcy and began liquidating over 500 retail book stores across the globe, they’re not out of business. If that’s not telling, I don’t know what is. All of this is not just because ordering books online at is cheaper and more efficient than going to bookstores, this is because people for the first time have a more convenient way and better to read and store books than ever before.

Introducing tablet computing, where because of things like the iPad and Kindle, reading books digitally is here to stay. Yah, I know, everyone is going to defend books and say “I like the feel of a real book” or “I like how it smells”, guess what, none of that matters. Convenience trumps all. You can now have an entire library worth of books with you accessible at any time. The only time I think I would prefer a real book is if I need to go to the beach or I’m having a bath and am concerned I might damage my iPad, although I was thinking of getting a cheap Kindle for those experiences. I know it’s pretty cliché to say these days but print is dead and technology killed it.

Before, when eBooks were first starting out, it was considered a pretty lame experience to read one. Staring at the screen on my laptop or desktop computer in an uncomfortable chair with a badly formatted PDF was not my idea of a good reading experience. Now with Tablet’s and the invention of ePub and other eBook file types it makes the experience way way better. eBooks used to be very disorganized and there was no proper file system for reading or accessing the content, it used to mostly be poorly laid out PDFs and TXT files, there was no consistency from book to book. This issue is now fixed and I can now read books in my bed, couch, car, airplane with my tablet. Oh and earlier when I said you can have an entire library worth of books on you at any time, I meant that literally… from a content and layout perspective.

*Additional thoughts from my Editor Crystal Barry: A lot of people still enjoy the print based method of reading, trust me when I say dropping a novel on your head hurts a lot less than dropping an iPad, and I think that it will be a while before physical books are completely replaced by e-books, but it is a bigger issue that authors have to face now a days. Not only do they have to worry about how their work will translate into a paperback/hardback book but they have to worry about how it comes across as an e-book. This does give authors a chance to do more with their books than they may have been able to before because they can embed files into their novels now. So one day you maybe be reading a book that links you directly to reference material, illustrations, or even to a sound track. It will be a while yet before iBooks does to the novel what iTunes did to the CD.

Content in the Digital Age will be an ongoing series of articles on consuming content in today’s world and the impact technology has had on people and industry.

Please leave comments below sharing your thoughts on any of the subject matter discussed. Would love to hear from you!

– Shane Lamotte

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