I have a Kindle, somewhere.
Seriously, I know where my Kindle is. I just haven’t looked at it in a long time and it was brought to my attention today. I pondered why I haven’t read anything on Kindle and realized Kindle isn’t cool anymore.
Time flies, we all know, but the Kindle was invented in 2007. Some of you are probably thinking it wasn’t all that cool back then, but that’s a full decade of new inventions between then and now and there have been some pretty cool inventions.
Would you give a Kindle as a Christmas gift this year? Would you be thrilled if you received one? If the answer to both questions is no, then you have confirmed Kindle ain’t cool, man.
If Kindle ain’t cool, then I suppose that means the old-fashioned book may come back, but would you be thrilled if you received a book for Christmas? I think you see where I’m going with this.
I have a theory that people would read more if books were shorter, say like 10 pages or less. If that sounds ridiculous, wait until you hear me out.
In a year of study, I’ve found people really don’t read books. They hate the idea of reading books for one reason: it takes too long. People will binge watch a TV series for six hours, but will say reading a book takes too long. People will watch movies for two hours, even if they are bad movies. People even seem to take pleasure in watching bad movies and critiquing them afterward with friends. Nobody wants to wade through a bad book, however, and fear of doing so prevents people from even picking one up.
The key to being a modern writer is to come up with a format of reading that would allow people to read bad books and not mind.
To think in purely economic terms, as opposed to artistic, we are talking about consumers and their tendencies for purchasing stories. People need stories of some kind. They literally can’t live without them. By far the most popular way to consume stories is through video. No matter how much you tout a book, most people would rather get the story through their TV.
What if books were super short? Would people want to come home on a Friday night and read a 10-page story? My history of blogging has proved that people do like to read, as long as the reading doesn’t take too long.
I have released a super-short e-book as a test. You can read it for free this Friday through Sunday. It is called The Secret, by JJ Petes. It is available for 99 cents on Kindle or can be read for free with a Kindle Unlimited subscription right now.
I expect nobody to read this super short e-book and I certainly have no intention of making money from it. I only want to test the theory. If even a couple of my small number of followers gives the book a try, maybe I’m on to something. Super short might be the only way to go.
If print books are returning to prominence, why are they cheaper than e-books?
While book browsing on Amazon the other day, I noticed the price of an e-book is almost always a dollar or two more than the paper version of the same book. The print book costs more for publishers to produce than an e-book, yet is less expensive to buy.
E-books are not physical inventory items, so Amazon has no reason to unload them in a hurry, whereas print books are lying around, taking up warehouse space, so maybe Amazon wants to sell them faster to get rid of them.
Or, maybe it is simply a case of supply and demand and e-books are in higher demand. I seem to remember a time when e-books were much cheaper than print, but that was prior to the smartphone era. You used to have to own a Kindle to read an e-book and Kindles were expensive, so one incentive to buy a Kindle was the ability to buy cheaper books. Now, everyone with a smartphone can use a Kindle app for free and e-book prices are rising.
Amazon wouldn’t raise the price of e-books if people weren’t paying, so people must be willing to pay more for the e-books. That can only be for one reason: convenience. If I decide I want to read A Wrinkle in Time, I can go online and order the e-book and start reading it in less than a minute, or I can order the print version and start reading it next week.
Print books will eventually die off for the same reason video rental stores and printed newspapers are dying off. They are inconvenient and unnecessary.