From The New York Times:
How do New York Times journalists use technology in their jobs and in their personal lives? Alexandra Alter, who covers the books industry for The Times, discussed the tech she’s using.
Given that you write about the books industry, how do you prefer to read books? On a Kindle or iPad or some other device, or printed books?
I came a little late to e-books, but I became a convert in 2010 when my older daughter was born. I needed a way to read books with one hand (and in a dark room), so I got a Kindle. The Kindle and ice cream sandwiches — also easily managed with one hand — are what got me through the brutal early weeks with a newborn, when you basically can’t put them down. Now I’m on my fifth Kindle.
I still love print books and find it to be a much more relaxing and immersive experience, but when I’m reading books for work — honestly, the bulk of my reading — the Kindle is incredibly convenient. I have all my books on a single device that I always have with me. I read advance copies of books that way: Publishers send me digital copies through NetGalley or Edelweiss, sites where book industry professionals and critics can get digital copies of books before they’re published.
. . . .
How is technology affecting the publishing industry?
About a decade ago, when Amazon introduced its first e-reader, publishers panicked that digital books would take over the industry, the way digital transformed the music industry. And for a while, that fear seemed totally justified. At one point, the growth trajectory for e-books was more than 1,200 percent. Bookstores suffered, and print sales lagged. E-books also made self-publishing easier, which threatened traditional publishers.
But in just the last couple of years, there has been a surprising reversal. Print is holding steady — even increasing — and e-book sales have slipped.
One possible reason is that e-book prices have gone up, so in some cases they’re more expensive than a paperback edition. Another possibility is digital fatigue. People spend so much time in front of screens that when they read they want to be offline. Another theory is that some e-book readers have switched to audiobooks, which are easy to play on your smartphone while you’re multitasking. And audiobooks have become the fastest-growing format in the industry.
. . . .
Many new authors are skipping traditional publishers and use tech tools to go straight to self-publishing their own e-books or print books. What will be the fate of traditional publishers in the next few years?
Self-publishing has been one of the most fascinating corners of the industry to me. There have been a handful of massively successful self-published authors who have started their own publishing companies, and they’ve started to publish other “self-published” authors. But publishers have survived so far through consolidation, and we’ll probably see more of that.
. . . .
The future of Barnes & Noble looks uncertain, and the company has suffered setbacks after a few disastrous strategies. It made a huge and, in retrospect, unwise investment in digital hardware and its Nook device, and then tried to become more of a general-interest gift and toy and books store, which probably alienated some of its core customers. Lately, it has tried smaller concept stores, with cafes with food and wine and beer. There was some snickering online after its new chief executive announced that its latest strategy was to focus on selling … books. Snickering aside, I think it’s the smartest thing the company can do. In many parts of the country, Barnes & Noble is the only place people can buy books, and it’s still a beloved brand.
Link to the rest at The New York Times
PG wonders if anyone who doesn’t live in New York City suffers from digital fatigue. Perhaps digital fatigue is a surreptitiously funded marketing campaign.
Who’s funding it? It wouldn’t be surreptitious if we knew.
As for himself, PG often suffers from Big Publishing fatigue. Symptoms include an inexplicable desire to kneel while facing Seattle and a warm feeling whenever he passes a Starbucks even though he hasn’t drunk coffee for a long time.
PG will, however, keep his eyes open for symptoms of digital fatigue the next time he travels to the skinny island that time forgot.