Does anyone read books anymore? When I was growing up I was a voracious reader, often devouring more than one book a week. A few years ago I was in a second hand book store that used to specialize in science fiction/fantasy and the owner was lamenting to me about how he’s lost his customer base — they’d all rather be playing World of Warcraft than reading Forgotten Realms.
I can see the effects of this at my local drug store where they’ve moved the books and magazine section from a place of prominence to a rack in the back of the store. The local library used to have shelves upon shelves of paperbacks but now they have at most two shelves for each genre. Even the video stores have slashed their back catalog of movies, have expanded their video game sections and are focusing on reselling “previously viewed/played” movies/games.
The video game market has already become the largest media entertainment market in media sound bites. Predictions say that by 2011 the video game industry will be worth twice the music industry. But part of the reason video games are soaring so high is the way that the numbers are calculated. The movie industry is still much bigger than the video game industry if you combine movie tickets with DVD sales, not to mention all the merchandising off-shoots.
But does this mean dire times for the book industry? Trends show that the gaming industry is increasing 9% per annum while the book industry increases 3% per annum. I find the drug stores and supermarkets are the place to watch for what is happening in the mainstream. They were the last places to abandon VHS and widely adopt DVD. Yet I already see a huge sign on the local drug store advertising the Xbox 360 and Nintendo Wii.