I read a lot of news stories as part of my work for TeleRead, and lately, I’ve noticed that many are dominated by a decidedly gloomy tone. Apple gets sued. Readers get sued. All five of the big publishers get sued. Then there are the copyright squabbles, the fair use disputes, author’s rights, reader’s rights, corporate overlord rights … it just goes on and on. And it’s all terribly complicated and difficult and cumbersome, and … well, pointless, really.
This is an industry that’s under threat from a million competing forms of entertainment, 95 percent of which can be accessed off the same device as the book, and this is how we’re going to solve the problem?
Here is my radical proposal: Can we make books fun again? How about the library in Slovenia that’s wrapping up mystery genre packages for readers to unwrap like a present once they get them home? Or how about the Toronto bookstore that converted their bargains table into a vending machine that dispenses a random book to all who play? Why can’t we have more stories like those?
Books can be very serious works of art, sure. But they’re designed to be entertainment, too. Why can’t it be fun again? Are we really going to lure the next generation of readers—who spend more time with their tablets than with their televisions—away from the Angry Birds and Netflix apps with doom and gloom and restriction and a scaling back of what we can do, instead of an opening up of it?