I know the Kindle is really what you're all after in our amazing TrèsSugar giveaway, so it seems like the perfect time to read into how the gadget will change the way we read.
Book publishers, tattered and tired after years of fighting the Internet, are perched on an opportunity to sell books like never before. Will we read them? Not sure. But we're certainly going to buy them!
The Kindle is a portable bookstore that's already capitalizing on impulse buyers. Want to try a little Proust? Just read the first few pages of Swann's Way and you'll get every madeleine reference you'll ever need to know.
Of course, you'll have to pay for that madeleine, as pauper publishers are eager for your coins. But who would pay for a few lines? Ha! You will, my dear reader; we all will. The Wall Street Journal has laid out a semidystopian vision of how the future will be written. To find out,
- Imagine being able to create a library of every book you've ever read in a matter of clicks, and then search it with keywords. This will be indispensable for research and terrible for bookshelves.
- Readers online will call out passages, much like they already do, and Google will rank pages and paragraphs, allowing the most popular to rise to the top. A well-linked quote will drive sales far more than an NPR interview.
- Confused by a paragraph, chapter, book? You'll instantly be able to connect to other readers debating its meaning. It will be like a global book club that's always reading what you want.
- Writing for Google is where it starts to get scary. Authors and publishers will consider how individual pages and chapters will rank in search results and write accordingly. Best case? Some tagging and strategically placed words and paragraphs. Worst? Whole books written for search engines.
- A la carte pricing will be on the menu. Nonfiction books may be broken into sections and sold. Fiction? Expect to see a return of the cliffhanger, and novels sold in chapters.
It's easy to say this will never happen, but it already is. Kindle's current incarnation has a Web browser tucked in a folder called "experimental projects," and Amazon has an iPhone app that's ready to jump-start the future. Will you be reading?