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.
Rambling Jack
Rambling Jack by Micheál Ó Conghaile
Reviewed by Vincent Francone

“Rambling Jack—what’s that?”
“A novel. Novella, I guess.”
“Yeah, it looks short. What is it, a hundred pages?”
“Sorta. It’s a duel language book, so really, only about… 50 pages total.”
“50 pages?”
“Including illustrations.”
“And this—what. . .

Read More >

The Things We Don't Do
The Things We Don't Do by Andrés Neuman
Reviewed by Tiffany Nichols

Many authors are compared to Roberto Bolaño. However, very few authors have the privilege of having a Roberto Bolaño quote on the cover of their work; and at that, one which states, “Good readers will find something that can be. . .

Read More >

Private Life
Private Life by Josep Maria de Sagarra
Reviewed by Christopher Iacono

In Josep Maria de Sagarra’s Private Life, a man harangues his friend about literature while walking through Barcelona at night:

When a novel states a fact that ties into another fact and another and another, as the chain goes on. . .

Read More >

Dinner by César Aira
Reviewed by Lori Feathers

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. . .

Read More >

We're Not Here to Disappear
We're Not Here to Disappear by Olivia Rosenthal
Reviewed by Megan C. Ferguson

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. . .

Read More >

The Queen's Caprice
The Queen's Caprice by Jean Echenoz
Reviewed by Christopher Iacono

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. . .

Read More >

French Concession
French Concession by Xiao Bai
Reviewed by Emily Goedde

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. . .

Read More >

Anna Karenina
Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
Reviewed by Christopher Iacono

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.. . .

Read More >

The Cold Song
The Cold Song by Linn Ullmann
Reviewed by David Richardson

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. . .

Read More >

This Life
This Life by Karel Schoeman
Reviewed by P. T. Smith

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. . .

Read More >

The next few events from our Translation Events Calendar: See More Events >