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.”
César Aira dishes up an imaginative parable on how identity shapes our sense of belonging with Dinner, his latest release in English. Aira’s narrator (who, appropriately, remains nameless) is a self-pitying, bitter man—in his late fifties, living again with. . .
Originally published in French in 2007, We’re Not Here to Disappear (On n’est pas là pour disparaître) won the Prix Wepler-Fondation La Poste and the Prix Pierre Simon Ethique et Réflexion. The work has been recently translated by Béatrice Mousli. . .
Even though the latest from Jean Echenoz is only a thin volume containing seven of what he calls “little literary objects,” it is packed with surprises. In these pieces, things happen below the surface, sometimes both literally and figuratively. As. . .
Who is this woman? This is the question that opens Xiao Bai’s French Concession, a novel of colonial-era Shanghai’s spies and revolutionaries, police and smugglers, who scoot between doorways, walk nonchalantly down avenues, smoke cigars in police bureaus, and lounge. . .
For the past 140 years, Anna Karenina has been loved by millions of readers all over the world. It’s easy to see why: the novel’s two main plots revolve around characters who are just trying to find happiness through love.. . .
Linn Ullmann’s The Cold Song, her fifth novel, is built much like the house about which its story orbits: Mailund, a stately white mansion set in the Norwegian countryside a few hours drive from Oslo. The house, nestled into the. . .
Karel Schoeman’s Afrikaans novel, This Life, translated by Else Silke, falls into a genre maybe only noticed by the type of reader who tends toward Wittgenstein-type family resemblances. The essential resemblance is an elderly narrator, usually alone—or with one other. . .
In Joris-Karl Hyusmans’s most popular novel, À rebours (Against Nature or Against the Grain, depending on the which translated edition you’re reading), there is a famous scene where the protagonist, the decadent Jean des Esseintes, starts setting gemstones on the. . .
There are books that can only wisely be recommended to specific types of readers, where it is easy to know who the respective book won’t appeal to, and Kristiina Ehin’s Walker on Water is one these. What makes this neither. . .
Imagine the most baroque excesses of Goethe, Shakespeare, and Poe, blended together and poured into a single book: That is The Nightwatches of Bonaventura. Ophelia and Hamlet fall in love in a madhouse, suicidal young men deliver mournful and heartfelt. . .