A person playing games on mobile, another indulging in a video call with his girlfriend, a middle-aged woman watching her favourite show on her laptop (online), an old man enjoying some casual YouTube comedy… no rush on the bookstores, no interest in literature, and eventually no one to dust off the books lying in a corner in a shop. This is a dystopia that can disturb book lovers and those interested in literature much more than any other dystopia any movie or novel can conjure and display. A world without books! Can you imagine? Unfortunately, with the invention of advanced technology to keep us engaged and immersed, books have shifted away from our attention. And, as a worried literary scholar, I share your concerns about the shifting landscape of leisure activities and the impact they may have on the popularity of books. Indeed, modern and versatile mediums such as videos, games, and mobile and smart devices have captured the attention of a significant portion of the population. These mediums offer immersive experiences with stunning visuals, interactive gameplay, and instant accessibility. In contrast and unfortunately, books rely solely on written words to transport readers to different worlds and engage their imaginations. And that, my friends, is no more compelling for many who have enjoyed the stunning experiences of VR or curved TV sets. So, is there any chance that we can still have books around us in the coming 20 years? What do you think?
It is futile to doubt that books may indeed be struggling to compete in today’s attention economy. People now have countless options for entertainment and information at their fingertips, which has led to shorter attention spans and a preference for quick, easily digestible content. Consequently, in this fast-paced digital era, the slow and solitary act of reading a book can feel like a daunting commitment to many. Youths, especially, struggle to sit down with a book in their hands rather than having both their hands indulged in pressing the buttons of a gaming console in quick succession to lead their favourite football player to glory or hitting as many as they can in some hardcore action game like PUBG or GTA. Can we blame someone for such a scenario? The answer is no! The world has already moved ahead embracing technology. No one has time to sit down and involve himself in a task that’s rather static and lacks dynamics. In such a situation, reading a book seems too much to ask!
On the other hand, there are some things that modern authors can do (and some do it more than merely efficiently) to stay in the game. For people’s attention, authors need to adapt to the changing landscape while still preserving the unique qualities of books. Only writing might not be enough in the coming years. They can embrace technology and explore innovative ways to enhance the reading experience. For instance, some authors have started experimenting with interactive e-books that incorporate multimedia elements like images, videos, and sound effects. These enhancements can help captivate readers and bridge the gap between traditional books and modern mediums.
Moreover, authors can also leverage social media and online platforms to connect with their audience and build a community around their work. By engaging in discussions, hosting live readings, or sharing behind-the-scenes content, authors can create a more interactive and immersive experience for readers. In short, only writing books may no longer be enough for authors… though it’s the very essence of their profile. However, times have changed and authors may need to find innovative ways to stay relevant and fit into the needs of modern people.
Though it might seem far-fetched and way out of the general loop, a collaboration between authors and other creative professionals, such as illustrators, musicians, and game designers, can result in exciting multimedia projects combining different mediums’ strengths. This approach can potentially attract a wider audience and appeal to those who may not traditionally be inclined to pick up a book. Do you think it might work? Have you seen some authors trying such tricks? Do let me know in the comments section if you remember any instance of this kind.
It’s worth noting that while the popularity of books may be evolving, literature itself is far from fading away. Even though I am writing this article more as a cynic rather than a person involved in literature himself, I do see hope for literature because it has always come out of dark abyss and hopelessness. Literature has been there since time immemorial in different forms. Throughout history, the medium of storytelling has transformed and adapted to various technological advancements, yet the power of a well-crafted narrative endures. Books continue to hold a special place in our culture, offering a unique and intimate experience that allows readers to immerse themselves in worlds created by the written word.
In conclusion, as a concerned literary enthusiast, it’s important to acknowledge the challenges books face in competing with modern and versatile mediums of leisure. However, by embracing technology, fostering reader engagement, and exploring new avenues for collaboration, authors can adapt to the changing landscape and ensure that literature continues to captivate the hearts and minds of readers in this evolving digital era.
By Nilesh for The Best Books