Our economy runs on eyeballs, which is another way of says that it runs on public attention. Every company in the world is trying to cut through the clutter competing for the public’s attention and get their product noticed. That’s what makes a product succeed or fail.
As an author I’m competing not just with other authors, or even just with other people creating content for media, but with everyone trying to sell something. I’m even competing with Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. People have a finite amount of time outside of work and sleep. If they’re ranting about their favorite candidate or most hated candidate on Facebook or Twitter, or even watching the results of the latest primary on TV, they aren’t reading my latest novel, or anyone else’s novel. They also aren’t playing the latest videogame or trying out the latest TV show that sounds kind of cool.
It’s a competition of everything against everything, with the object of capturing and holding enough public attention to make a product or a candidate viable. And this election year it’s going to be worse than ever before.The faster average readers read, the more of a publisher’s product they can consume.
Setting the Pace
How can reading and especially novels compete in this deluge of messages? What advantages do books potentially have in this mess? One thing is possible with books that you can’t do with the other media: It’s possible to drastically increase the pace at which you consume it. A really fast reader can read five, ten or even twenty times as quickly as an average reader. Most other forms of media can’t do that. Unless you want fast forward pictures and voices that sound like chipmunks, you’re pretty much stuck with a single pace if you’re watching television. Same thing with audio-books.
The faster average readers read, the more of a publisher’s product they can consume. Better readers Will probably even increase the time they spend reading. So it’s in every publisher’s interest to increase the average public reading speed. How could book publishers leverage that potential advantage? I think research is key.
- What physical characteristics of a book make it a faster or slower read? With e-book readers it’s relatively easy to control the reader experience.
- Do fonts, print sizes, margins or screen colors make a difference in reading speed? How do fast readers read?
- What are the differences between the way fast and slow readers read? How can publishers help make more slower or average readers into fast ones?
Unlike most other media, book publishers could potentially dramatically expand their audience even without expanding the amount of time people read. What do you think?
Think Face Means Eyes Consider And Concept Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net