Are Readers Really That Conservative?
Makinson believes that the reason that digital publishing innovation stalled at the level of basic, ordinary, Kindle ebooks is because readers are conservative:
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But when you contrast the book industry with say, the music industry or the movie industry, the change in terms of what it is that we produce, the content that we offer to readers has not been anything like as convulsive as it has been in other areas of the media and the reason for that, I believe, is that the readership is relatively conservative. The message that we get around the world from readers of books is that they don’t want the content to change very much. They are still interested in reading whole books than chapters. As we know in the music industry, people want to listen to tracks and not albums. And people in music want an abundance of content available to them. In books, people don’t really want that. They want to buy a single copy, they may want to buy that electronically or physically, but they want to buy the individual book. …
So, of course, one has to be vary and vigilant about how digital technology is changing patterns in the industry. But I don’t think, on the evidence so far, there is terribly much to be alarmed about. In fact in the UK, physical books grew in volume by 8% in 2015. And step back five years when we were looking at the very rapid growth of e-books, I don’t think anyone of us could have predicted that the physical book market would be in such healthy shape as it is in the United Kingdom.
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So do you think he’s correct?
I think he both is and isn’t right, but I don’t know how much we can trust his opinion.
Penguin is one of the publishers that sought to stop the rise of ebooks in early 2010, so it is hard to say whether Makinson’s view is an accurate vision and not wish fulfillment from the head of company (in a _very_ conservative industry) which wants to operate the same way it did twenty years ago.
That said, I think he’s at least half wrong.
Sure, innovations like enhanced ebooks have generally failed to catch on, but readers are still buying and consuming content by the chapter. There’s comics, and also the serials Amazon continues to publish, and Wattpad.
If readers are so conservative then how is Wattpad thriving?
Better question: If readers are so conservative then why are so many writing their own fanfic and original works?
What do you think?
image by clagnut