One question we have been asked a few times since the launch of Oolone is how we explain the huge success of Amazon’s Kindle, given our penchant for all things visual and non-text based.
And the answer is relatively simple. The Kindle is a great device! It is slick, slim and portable, it has a practical length of battery life, and of course most importantly it has a revolutionary e-ink screen that set it apart from other devices at the time it came out.
And if you think about it, it is very visual. It is my belief that it is successful despite the dominance of text within its frame, not because of it. Relative to backlit screens it is a pleasure to read from. Combine this with Amazon’s monopoly on the book and e-book industry and you have a winner.
So what is the likely future of books? Although some are hesitant to convert to e-readers, the positive reviews and conversion stories keep pouring in. But as information has become instantly available, our attention span as a whole has waned. Is this a bad thing? Not necessarily. As many prominent authors and publishing agents point out, there is now more competition for readers’ attention than ever before. And it is only because of this competition that we quickly switch between sources.
Sidney J. Levy, the Coca-Cola Distinguished Professor of Marketing at the University of Arizona, rightly states that as readers, “…before we can experience the content within we have to have our attention engaged”. If anything it may mean we are more efficient than ever at determining good sources and gleaning relevant information.
Of course there have been attempts at simplifying the summary process as well – take Summly, an app which summarises based using verb stemming and various associated algorithms – but it appears the very sources we use are having to be pithier and more succinct. And let’s face it, nobody likes a waffler.
So read your kindle. But not for too long. My bet is you’ll be back to your video-playing tablet/laptop before long anyway.