24 June 08 | Chad W. Post

Now that I’m going to be in the office until late-July, I’ll finally have a chance to start interviewing booksellers across the country about the future of bookstores and bookselling.

Coincidentally, I came across this article yesterday from The Bookseller (essentially the UK’s version of Publishers Weekly) about the “Reading the Future” conference that took place last week and “presented new consumer research into the reading and buying habits of 1,000 adults across the country.”

I haven’t read the entire study (it’s a mere $400 to purchase), but based on this article, the scope seems a bit different from the recent NEA Reading at Risk reports and similar “future of reading” studies that have come out in the U.S. in that the reported results of this survey focus more on how we’ll get and read books in coming years than the question of whether or not anyone will be reading.

Delegates heard from William Higham of agency Next Big Thing, which conducted the research. Higham reported that 56% of 18-24s think people will still be using bookshops in 20 years’ time. Looking deeper into 18-24 year olds’ reading habits, he found that 28% were favourable towards the idea of e-readers, compared to 9% of 65+ year olds, and 40% liked the idea of downloadable chapters of books, compared to 7% of 65+ year olds.

It’s unclear whether the 44% of 18-24s that were surveyed believe that a) no one will be buying books, or b) most sales will occur online, but either way this is a bit dismaying.

In terms of ebooks, these statements are rather interesting:

Speaking at a panel session after the research was presented, Transworld publisher Bill Scott-Kerr said the statistics about younger readers all pointed “to where we as publishers are going in the future”. He added: “We all know the book is a great piece of technology – you can’t drop e-books in the bath. But we as an industry are in a lot of trouble; we don’t know where we are going.”

“Should we follow the iTunes model of providing content and making money out of the hardware, like Amazon with the Kindle, or the Google model which is all about content? Looking at the level of indifference of 18-24 year olds has got to give us all cause for concern. They will be wanting to take a role in the devolution of content, and we must provide them with an environment to do it in.”


Comments are disabled for this article.
....
Death by Water by Kenzaburo Oe
Reviewed by Will Eells

Death by Water, Kenzaburo Oe’s latest novel to be translated into English, practically begs you to read it as autobiography. Like The Changeling, as well as many other works not yet released in English, Death by Water is narrated in. . .

Read More >

Twenty-One Cardinals
Twenty-One Cardinals by Jocelyne Saucier
Reviewed by Natalya Tausanovitch

Jocelyne Saucier’s Twenty-One Cardinals is about the type of unique, indestructible, and often tragic loyalty only found in families. For a brief but stunningly mesmerizing 169 pages, Twenty-One Cardinals invited me in to the haunting and intimate world of the. . .

Read More >

One of Us Is Sleeping
One of Us Is Sleeping by Josefine Klougart
Reviewed by Jeremy Garber

We know so very little; so little that what we think to be knowledge is hardly worth reckoning with at all; instead we ought to settle for being pleasantly surprised if, on the edge of things, against all expectations, our. . .

Read More >

Bye Bye Blondie
Bye Bye Blondie by Virginie Despentes
Reviewed by Emma Ramadan

Many of Virginie Despentes’s books revolve around the same central idea: “To be born a woman [is] the worst fate in practically every society.” But this message is nearly always packaged in easy-to-read books that fill you with the pleasure. . .

Read More >

La Superba
La Superba by Ilja Leonard Pfeijffer
Reviewed by Anna Alden

Ilja Leonard Pfeijffer’s La Superba is appropriately titled after the Italian city of Genoa, where, after escaping the pressures of fame in his own country, the semi-autobiographical narrator finds himself cataloguing the experiences of its mesmerizing inhabitants with the intention. . .

Read More >

Intervenir/Intervene
Intervenir/Intervene by Dolores Dorantes; Rodrigo Flores Sánchez
Reviewed by Vincent Francone

It took reading 44 pages of Intervenir/Intervene before I began to get a sense of what Dolores Dorantes and Rodrigo Flores Sánchez were up to. Recurring throughout these 44 pages—throughout the entire book—are shovels, shovel smacks to the face, lobelias—aha!. . .

Read More >

All Days Are Night
All Days Are Night by Peter Stamm
Reviewed by Lori Feathers

As presaged by its title, contradiction is the theme of Peter Stamm’s novel, All Days Are Night. Gillian, a well-known television personality, remains unknowable to herself. And Hubert, a frustrated artist and Gillian’s lover, creates art through the process of. . .

Read More >

The Seven Good Years
The Seven Good Years by Etgar Keret
Reviewed by Vincent Francone

It’s a rare and wonderful book that begins and ends with violence and humor. At the start of Etgar Keret’s The Seven Good Years, Keret is in a hospital waiting for the birth of his first child while nurses, in. . .

Read More >

Human Acts
Human Acts by Han Kang
Reviewed by J.C. Sutcliffe

Last year, Han Kang’s The Vegetarian was an unexpected critical hit. Now, it’s just been published in the U.S. and has already received a great deal of positive critical attention. The Vegetarian was a bold book to attempt as an. . .

Read More >

Nowhere to Be Found
Nowhere to Be Found by Bae Suah
Reviewed by Pierce Alquist

It’s been almost a year since the publication of Nowhere to Be Found by Bae Suah, but despite being included on the 2015 PEN Translation award longlist, and some pretty vocal support from key indie presses, the book has. . .

Read More >