The Future of Reading
How do you read? Novels or short stories? Physical books or digital reading? I’d love to know! Tell me about your reading habits:
I’ve been a bookworm most of my life. I remember being a teenager rereading a Sarah Dessen book for a fourth time, lounging in the living room on a Friday night when my mom interrupted to say she was grateful not to have to worry about me getting into trouble because she knew where I would be on the weekends (she worried plenty about me in college, the inevitable was just postponed. Sorry, Mom!) While my siblings played video games, I watched them over the top of a book or listened from my room while I typed stories on my desktop computer (couldn’t drag that machine around like I do my laptop now).
When I began learning about the publishing side of books, I listened to every podcast, read any book I could get my hands on. Voices from the Creative Penn, Sell More Books Show, and countless others have guided me through my writing journey and taught me about books and reading. While AI has taken center stage in discussions about the future of publishing and reading, there have been plenty of other shifts in our habits as a reading community.
I could go back to the 19th century, where authors like Charles Dickens, Elizabeth Gaskell, and Leo Tolstoy published their works in journals and newspapers, keeping readers hooked for years before publishing their novels as a whole, but that’s been done before.
Those classics are an inspiration, but authors today can’t mirror the success of Bleak House or North and South. The amount of information that is thrusted in our faces each day is incomparable. Books made a shift into the digital world in the early 2000s, with Google digitizing books and Amazon coming out with the kindle. A 2008 study found that on average, people consume around 34 gigabytes of data each day. That is around 10,000 words a day (Wolf, 2018), and that was before our devices became as smart as they are today!
And this kind of reading isn’t deep reading. How often do you skim emails and articles? (I do all the time. So much reading, so little time!) There’s a whole lot of neuroscience that goes with these statistics, but that’s not the point I’m trying to make.
The point is that people are reading differently. We read on our phones or other devices. We read in those short snippets of time we can manage in our busy days. These changes in reading habits made me question the novel.
There are still novel readers out there and plenty of them, but there are also readers that seek out shorter works. I began to wonder if these changes would lead to more and more readers enjoying shorter works.
This is what brought me to Substack and brought on my Marredbury project. Marredbury is a series taking place in one town. It satisfies what I look for in my reading when life gets busy, short stories, but a world that I can settle in, like when I read a novel (at least that’s the goal 🤞). After publishing the serial version here and getting the feedback I need to polish it up (more on this later), I can bundle them together as a full collection for those readers that enjoy a book in their hands, or a complete work on their kindle to read at their leisure (the best of both worlds!)
Between these short stories, I want to share what I have learned about the inspirational industry behind Marredbury from other writers, like, , and others.
I really can keep on going. This is just the introduction to a series about the future of reading. I’ll stop with a question for you. How do you enjoy your reading? Do you like longer pieces, like novels? Serial works that break novel length stories into pieces over time? Short stories? I can do all the research, read the books by experts and listen to other authors, but I’d really like to hear from my readers. I have a short survey (four questions) if you have a couple minutes or let me know what you think in the comments below! I’d love to hear from you and continue this discussion.
Before you leave, I do have some indie authors you can check out in a giveaway (just more words to add to your daily 10,000!) Check out these thriller stories! Available until the end of February.