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Media Shifts

Posted in Technology by engtech on July 30, 2008

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.

18 Responses

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  1. Ian Stewart said, on July 30, 2008 at 12:00 pm

    Just yesterday my wife asked a 4-year old if he got to lay in bed and read a book when he didn’t feel like sleeping. “No,” he said with some disgust, “I get my DS.”

    I wouldn’t care that video games were replacing reading for pleasure if there were something like the works of Shakespeare in the medium. Something that could convey Humanity and Beauty and Truth. And all that good stuff. Something that one could work their way into. Something instead of just more mere Entertainment on the western horizon.

    Anyway—rant over—I wouldn’t be surprised if you were right.

  2. Ian Stewart said, on July 30, 2008 at 12:01 pm

    (I meant look at a book in the 4-year old’s case.)

  3. Ross said, on July 30, 2008 at 2:51 pm

    I still read, a lot. I’ve almost given up TV completely (damn you Lost and The Office, ok and Deadliest Catch). I’ve always been a reader, at least a book a week, now I’m up to 2-4 a week. I actually find it much more relaxing than TV.

    BUT, you’re absolutely right about video games. My local library has well over 2000 DVDs available to take out, at no charge, and in the last month they’ve also started to stock Xbox 360 and Nintendo Wii games – again, no cost to take out. I guess the theory is “at least get kids into the library, maybe they’ll glance at a book”.

  4. Guy said, on July 30, 2008 at 8:52 pm

    I’m with Ross I read or am on the web (reading) more than I watch TV and with a kid long hours of video gaming is out of the question. But then again I am creeping out of the targeted 18-35 demographic.

  5. naomi said, on August 02, 2008 at 10:49 pm

    i love to read if you find the rite book it just kinda sucks you in … i have curently just finished a house of night novel by pccast .. wonderful … read it

  6. Kyle Sagaas said, on August 10, 2008 at 1:17 am

    I have a good read, thanks for the information and insights you have so provided here. I will certainly bookmark your blog for future reads. Thanks!

  7. Jay Harris said, on August 10, 2008 at 5:08 am

    Great Post! This is the kind of information I have been looking for. I will certainly come back for more reads later. Thanks for sharing. :)

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  9. Maura said, on August 14, 2008 at 7:08 pm

    I still read a lot — I usually have 2-3 books going at any one time and I start a new one pretty much every week unless I’m really busy — but I have to juggle it with TV and playing games. I try to stay balanced. :-)

  10. Michael A. Banks said, on August 14, 2008 at 7:44 pm

    The trend is mirrored in science fiction cons. Since the end of the 1980s, most cons are overrun by media fans and gamers. And it seems as if little effort is made to bring in readers. It was once a proud and lonely thing to be a fhan (or even a fan), and some readers even spent time lurking in bookstores and libraries, watching for people browsing science fiction or fantasy, the object being to invite them to the local SF club or a con.

    And try to find Analog or Asmov’s at a newsstand.

    Too bad for cons, but the non-readers are losing something, too, in ignoring the read-only Internet of books and other hardcopy publications. “Everything” is NOT on the Internet, and never will be.
    ==Mike

  11. Jenny, Bloggess said, on August 17, 2008 at 12:24 pm

    I heard they were making Madame Bovary into a nintendo game. Or maybe I dreamt it. Either way it’s bound to happen.

  12. jenny said, on August 18, 2008 at 9:06 am

    I am very interested in how casual gaming, not WoW/Nintendo-y games will affect reading. I think it’s people who are taking up casual gaming who are the publishing industry’s best customers.

    And honestly, I will never have the attention span for games that I have for books. Surely, I am biased (I am a librarian), but as a kid I played Super Mario-type Nintendo games all the time. I went through a ton of batteries with my GameBoy. But, I dunno, I can’t really learn anything from games in the same way as I do from books. Games are what I play when I want to relax and not be stimulated much. Books are what I read when I want to get excited.

    And like the earlier poster, I think my lack of a television is a key element. I am not a judgy tv hater. In fact I watch (online, or by renting) a lot of tv. Just when you choose tv shows instead of sitting in front of it watching whatever comes on, you get a lot of free time back. At least I do!

  13. Wendell Dryden said, on August 20, 2008 at 4:35 am

    In the public housing neighbourhood I work in, reading is amazingly popular among the 3 – 12 yr old crowd (girls and boys). Our summer mornings and afternoons are lousy with little kids who come to get read to, to read to themselves, or to borrow books. Often, they borrow books they can’t and won’t read – big thick books with dense, high-level text – apparently just for the joy or status of walking around the neighbourhood with the book. Throughout the past 6 summers we’ve been working there, kids have recorded reading approx. 25,000 books with us (3 or 4 staff members): the winter borrowing program shows something like 14,000 additional books borrowed.

    When kids don’t want to read (and we get the chance to ask why) the answer is nearly unanimous: “I hate to read because They make us read in school.”

  14. Glenn Gillen said, on August 20, 2008 at 6:34 am

    I’m probably guilty as charged, at least from a fictional book perspective. I’ve got a hefty library of technical books to wade through that I’ve not yet finished, so finding the time stop furthering my learning and read a book seems like a far off ideal.

  15. Domek said, on October 11, 2008 at 11:31 pm

    Well, personally I try hard to participate in both worlds, digital one, and paper one. I read ebooks on my psp and books on the shelves… So far I enjoy the paper ones more =)

    http://theanimeblizzard.com/

  16. GABixler said, on February 08, 2009 at 7:03 pm

    I don’t think book reading will ever be lost…In fact, with the print on demand publishing process, more and more people are writing their own version of the “Great American Novel.” Perhaps the electronic media will change, with the use of Kindle or some other process, but there are too many of us out there who are book lovers! Come check out my reviews for some great recommendations!

  17. jammer said, on March 29, 2009 at 1:35 pm

    thank you

  18. bilgisayar teknik servis said, on August 03, 2009 at 12:32 pm

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