The future of reading revealed – at the gym and airport…

Two weeks ago it was my turn to take our daughter to her Saturday morning gym class. I always bring my Kindle in order to, among other things, get caught up on reading queries. What really struck me on this particular morning was the number of parents that were reading – and more important what they were reading on.

I was reading on my Kindle. The woman to the right of me was reading Hunger Games on her iPhone, while the woman next to her was reading a magazine on her iPad. To my left, a man read a paper copy of the Wall Street Journal, while the girl next to him was reading a book on her Nook (I didn’t ask which one). Only the man reading the Wall Street Journal was enjoying the smell of paper on the particular morning.

Fast forward two weeks. I’m sitting in Manchester Airport right now waiting for a flight to Newport News, Virginia, via Baltimore. I count thirteen people reading on various electronic reading devices, while only five people are enjoying the feel of paper between their fingers.

In short, the way that people are reading is changing, and there is nothing the large publishers can do to stop it.

I’ve seen this change in reading habits based on our own sales; 60% of the unit sales for Hurricane are the eBook. So while there are people in the blogosphere who are more than happy to talk about how publishing works and why this is the only correct model for a publishing business, the truth is that how people are reading and getting information is changing. Publishers large and small need to recognize the change that is already occurring and adapt to it. Failing to do this will make publishers nothing more than the next typewriter vendors in the age of computers…


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