People are doing less of it. Why?
In a world of bytes, of information pre-chewed and delivered in spoonfuls—a world of reality TV and world problems broken down into two-minute news segments—reading is effort. It’s an interactivity that demands effort. And thought. And time.
Are those things in such short supply in our lives? Or are we just lazy? Or is it something else?
Bookstores are intimidating, in their way. They represent choices beyond counting, with barely the time to explore them. Finding a new writer to love makes demands of time and money. It asks us to clear a space in our lives to accept new views of the world.
It ain’t like plunking down $XX for a movie…a spending of time that hands itself over into our heads, asking no more of us than open eyes and a couple of hours; that tells us in minutes whether the exercise was worth the effort. So instead, when we read, we choose brand names…the easy gimmick rather than the challenge….the safe over the unfamiliar.
How do we muscle the reader into discovering that infinite universe-in-print?
Publishing is in worse shape right now than it has been at any other time in my life. Publishers are looking for the safe, the predictable, the formulaic. The new paradigm of what makes us read is yet to be created. The time to discover our next favorite writer is in short supply.
We read, increasingly, at the pleasure of electricity; with the fast-food instantaneity of e-readers. Perhaps the future is here. Perhaps creating our own worlds, our own markets, through e-channels is part of the paradigm I was talking about.
But the love that drives the enterprise? The foundational respect of the language itself? Here, the problem is…well…more problematic.
Daily, in business communication, in social media, in emails and tweets, we see the butchery of language; the disregard of those building blocks of communication upon which our civilization is built. We no longer seem to know how to write. We no longer seem to care to know. How, then, will we respect reading? Why should we care?
Thinking that the occupation of my life is going the way of the dinosaur—that scares the hell out of me.
And that is the rant of the day.