I think that question was first asked some sixty years ago. I think it should be asked again. However, the big topic right now in the writing world is the fascinating transition the publishing world is going through. Electronic book readers such as Amazon’s Kindle are taking business away from the traditional book publishing/selling industry. E-publishing may change the written world as much as e-music affected the music industry in the last decade.
As a fairly new author with three published mystery/thrillers, even I can sense firsthand the growing momentum and the increased tension in the industry. Nevertheless, I don’t see the changes as being negative to the author. In fact a serious case could be made that the changes may make it easier for an author to get his/her work in front of the public. Indeed, my two books that are already on Kindle: Dead Men Can Kill and Cold Winter’s Kill, are selling faster on Amazon in the electronic format than in paper format.
A much bigger concern that I have is the proliferation of online/wireless access to television programs that now reaches all the way down to the cell phone. Watching television is virtually a national pastime in this country, while a minority of adults routinely read books. It’s been my experience that people discuss television shows with each other much more often than they discuss books they’ve read.
I saw a television commercial the other day extolling the capability of being able to download your favorite television shows. The commercial went on to explain how watching these shows from your handheld device can make time pass more pleasantly while you’re waiting in line at the DMV, or at some other appointment. Wouldn’t it nice to watch the show you missed last night while on the bus/train during you morning commute?
Many people currently “kill” that same time reading books. For a lot of busy people, that may be the only free time for them to read. Books have always been portable. Now, the number one evening pastime has become ubiquitous, and being away from home won’t mean you can’t watch television.
My concern is that the percentage of the American people who consider themselves regular book readers will decrease over time as the ability to “turn on the TV,” no matter where you are, becomes the norm. If fewer people read books, then fewer people will buy books, and that’s not good for authors.
Bob Doerr grew up in a military family, graduated from the Air Force Academy, and then had a twenty eight year career of his own in the Air Force. In the Air Force, Bob specialized in criminal investigations and counterintelligence gaining significant insight to the worlds of crime, espionage and terrorism. This background has helped Bob develop the fictional plots and characters in his books. Bob is now a full time author, with three mystery/thrillers already published and a fourth to be released in the fall, 2011. His book Cold Winter’s Kill was a finalist for the 2010 Eric Hoffer Award. He lives in Garden Ridge, Texas, with his wife of 37 years, their pet dog, Skyler, and ornery cat Cinco.