To your scattered books go**
One of the big arguments made in favor of limited copyright terms is that books (and other content) become our society’s shared culture.
We all have some awareness of Shakespeare, and Dickens, and the Wizard of Oz.
The ease of publication of digital media is disintegrating that cultural cohesiveness.
I’ve heard of many interesting TV shows…that I’ve never seen.
They are on services I don’t get…or, there are simply too many things for me to watch.
In the old days there were three networks (well, there were four, but how many of you remember Dumont?), and maybe a couple of local channels.
Now, there are hundreds of channels.
In 2006, there were effectively six big publishers of “trade books” (the kind you would buy in a bookstore…not textbooks and such). Yes, there were some others, but those six dominated the market.
Now, there are thousands of publishers (often just the author of a book)…and the output of the now Big 5 (following the merger of Penguin and Random House) is a sliver of what’s published each month.
At least, my guess is that we are fragmenting. 😉
I think that going forward, it may be much less likely that you’ll be able to have a conversation with somebody about a book you’ve both read.
I always like to try to test my hypotheses, though…
What I’m going to do here is see how familiar you are with bestsellers.
I’ll start with the current top ten bestsellers in the USA Kindle store, and the current New York Times bestselling hardback fiction.
Then, I’ll jump back to before the Kindle really established the e-book market…we’ll go back to this week in 2006.
After that, I’ll go back ten more years.
Now, I know that it’s not an apples to apples comparison, going back that far. It will be interesting to me if more people have read books on the bestseller list from twenty years ago than from the Kindle store list today. 🙂
Hmm…just looking at those lists was interesting! I could tell you what I’ve read, but I think I’ll wait until I see some of your responses.
I can see a lot of challenges to this methodology, naturally…maybe people are less likely to read a book when it first gets on the bestseller list. Maybe hardbacks tend to stay on the list longer.
Let’s go with another poll which will get your impressions:
Something occurred to me. I’m actually a lot more likely to read a book my Significant Other has read now…because we are on the same account. We sometimes read the book at the same time, or if it is in
it might not be the same time, but we might both read it.
Before the Kindle, I hadn’t read Janet Evanovich…now I do, because of book sharing. Before that, my SO would read them…and then pass them off to a sibling.
Having read them in the same family, though, isn’t the same as a society’s shared culture.
What do you think? Is the ease of digital publishing breaking up our group literary culture? If so, will that become more true in the future? What impact might that have on society? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.
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* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. Shop ’til you help!
** The post title is a play on To Your Scattered Bodies Go, the first book in Philip José Farmer’s Riverworld series.
This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.