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Part of the global trend is that many publishers, newspaper houses included, are recording a huge drop in sales of physical books and are moving their operations online. It isn’t that people are no longer reading. Instead, it is that they are reading differently.
Even libraries in the leading educational institutions globally are moving from physical books to electronic access. Instead of books, we are seeing huge servers and networks of internet-connected PCs. A lot of research is done online via search engines. As a matter of fact, many people now school online, acquiring knowledge and skills that they would otherwise not have had access to without doing a lot of travelling and incurring huge expenses.
A Cultural Change
What we are seeing is a huge cultural change. The readers are alive and well. They are only just adapting a newer medium. Here is a quick summary:
- Readers are moving online for their content consumption.
- Readers are using their PCs, tablets and smartphones as the new channels for content consumption.
- E-books, e-magazines, blogs, and video are the new media available on these new channels.
- While video isn’t huge in these parts yet because of high data costs and inadequate infrastructure, people are consuming content more and more that way.
- The physical book is not dead yet, but its viability as a sole means of income generation is seriously being threatened.
- With the exception of regions where infrastructure and costs make it not feasible, as a rule, publishers and authors need to start thinking of putting their works out via new media FIRST, and in physical book format second.
- Publishers and authors need to get “social”: in other words, they need to engage their readers on the readers’ where they hang out and on their own terms. In this new world, people hang out on social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc).
It is a new world. Publishing and education is fast changing from what we grew up with, and we must change with the times in order to stay relevant.
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