In a way, I write this as a response to Eoin Purcell’s excellent article, ‘Why The Kindle Fire Worries Me’ which you can read HERE.

In his article, Eoin expresses his fears of the new Amazon tablet device, and how Amazon are now hedging their bets not only in making ebooks available to the masses ‘within 60 seconds’ but also other media. The Kindle Fire is definitely geared toward delivering movies, TV shows, music, etc, directly into your hands, and rightly so Eoin expresses his concern that with that content becoming instantly available in the same way that the Kindle made ebooks as readily available, it just means that there is further distractions to people actually reading a book.

“There is only so much audience attention to go around and as mobile gaming, tv and film watching and web browsing become possible for everyone, it is just possible that digital books will lose out*. Of course maybe the audience that moves digital will be big enough for this to not be an issue, but even so book publishers and authors will need to compete with movies, games and music much more directly and immediately than they have in the past.”

My response is: Don’t worry.

Reading suffered with the advent of Radio. It suffered with the arrival of TV sets into everyone’s homes. And then came home computing, and the internet, and mobile phones that could surf the web and play movies… and now tablets…

What I’m trying to say is that it’s always suffered. As our society develops, and our technologies along with it, the act of reading comes under more and more pressure. But what I think is ‘Does it really matter?’

I love books, and I hope they’re around at least for my children’s lives and the lives of their children’s children. But one day they won’t exist.. at least not in the form you’re used to.

It matters a lot to us right now that people aren’t reading enough, but one day it won’t matter all that much. Books will probably become integrated with movies and music to become an entirely multimedia digital-only experience. That’s most likely going to happen. And when it does, books as we know them will be dead. They will be something else. Perhaps just the further evolution of the ebook medium, which even now in its early stages of creation is a separate entity to traditional books.

Centuries ago, we conceived of taking what we were writing on paper and binding those pages of text into volumes of text. This act shaped the future of our race in many ways. We’re doing the same thing now. We”re combining movies, music, the internet, gaming, and books together into one device… and one day, one medium.

I don’t think it’s anything to be worried about. It’s nothing to fear. It’s just evolution.

But saying that it doesn’t stop you feeling a little sad knowing that one day Dicken’s ‘Bleak House’ will be integrated with the TV series of the same name, the soundtrack, the wikipedia entry…. etc…. Maybe even in 3D! (Argh!)

The future of ebooks will be change. We just have to accept it.

Eoin, don’t worry!


  1. I guess I should have been clearer that the real worry is for the publishers and writers who will suffer because reading suffers! I’m not suggesting we can stop the future (and in a way that we should even want to) just that the future presents challenges for book publishers and writers!

    1. But, whilst I agree with you, I don’t think we’ll be kissing goodbye to authors and publishers. It’s just that the game will change. Perhaps publishers will be negotiating the rights to say, a Pink song, to be embedded in an ebook. That sort of thing. And the writers will still be there, but they will create works with multimedia content in mind. The only thing I think will happen that’s not that great is that works will get shorter and shorter. Look at the short stories available for mobiles. As you state in your article, the attention span is getting smaller because the amount of distractions are increasing. Readers may not have the attention span to handle a 250 page novel, instead choosing a 25 page one that comes with video in 3D.

      We might find that in the future the writer’s job is easier! No more 100,000 word books!

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