Today I made good on my Mother's Day promise to my mom and took her to see Thor and to the bookstore. To my surprise, she did not want a Dean Koontz, but wanted a copy of Stephen King's Under the Dome. We were at our favorite used book store, Half-Price Books. I would have preferred to have bought her the less expensive hard cover, but she wanted the trade back edition because it was lighter and wouldn't cause her hands to go numb. I wondered if she might be better off with an e-reader. She surprised me again by saying she wanted a Kindle.
It got me thinking about the relationship between reading and writing. One of my colleagues, who is an incredible AP English teacher, always says "what you read dictates how you write." I don't disagree with this statement, but my question is whether the format we read matters. I have found that I very rarely read any paper based books, magazines or even articles. I have already been an Audible member for a number of years, listening to audio books on commute to work each day. Since, I got my iPad, I read almost all of magazine and scholarly articles on it. I actually think that the iPad has increased my reading because I can now read in bed without worrying about waking my wife.
I do not the think the format of the book matters. Reading is reading. My sister-law would argue with me that listening to audio books is not reading. Perhaps in its purest form it is not, but it is still connected to the ancient tradition of oral histories and storytelling. As long the reader is able to enjoy the story or the article, then the purpose has been met.
As a writer who hopes to have his novel(s) published some day, should I be bothered by the recent numbers published the Association of American Publishers that e-book market growth increased by over 200% and audio books increased by over 30%? I don't think so. I view that as an opportunity to reach more people. I know that some have concerns with piracy issues and I will address that further in another post. I know one thing, if my mom who has bookshelves upon bookshelves of books, is ready to transition to an e-reader, those numbers are only the beginning.