Friday, 20 April 2012

Screens beat books?

Nobody reads any more, people keep whinging.

Wrong. As this chart (thanks Adam) demonstrates, people have been reading more and more since electronic media appeared. They might - very recently and solely in affluent societies - be reading on electronic devices, but they're reading.

Partly this is due to the declining price of books, increased literacy and education, and the rise of leisure time as western nations move away from long hours of hard labour. Whether people are reading better books is a different point, and none of our business really. Though I dread to think what happens to a nation of Dan Brown fans. 

I imagine that a non-branded equivalent of the Kindle or iPad would transform the education of those in the developing world too. Without infrastructure and investment, access to a library is difficult, whereas a village solar panel and some cheap e-readers make pretty much every text ever published available. Uncopyrighted texts are free, and we could easily shame publishers - who make no effort to market books in most African countries - into providing cheap or free access.

In fact, if nobody else is doing it, why don't we start funding this project right here, right now?

1 comment:

N. said...

Indeed. Why not? Love the idea!