The Hearts and Minds

If you think the problem with publishing today is the rise of ebooks, you are sadly mistaken. Ebooks and paper books are not even the real issue. The real problem facing people today, especially kids, is whether or not to even read a book.

Kids today face a bewildering array of eye candy that is far easier for them to play with than sitting down with a good book. Given the option of playing a video game or reading a good book, which one do you think will win most of the time? Hint, it’s not the book.

Parents are the ones responsible for regulating TV and game time. If the parents don’t mandate book reading time, the kids will always go for the visual sugar before the visual vegetables. I’m a parent of pre-teen boys and I can tell you it’s not easy. Mandating 20 minutes of reading a night, is not doing any good when they sit for hours in front of a game or a movie.

Look around your home and determine if you own more books or movies and games. There’s always the outlier homes that don’t own video games and are filled with books but they are not normal. Most families have an even balance or lean heavily to the movies and games.

What does this mean for writers? It means that we face a far greater problem than how a book gets read, but rather if a book gets read. If today’s hyper active kid or young adult would rather read on an ereader than a paper book, then by God I will do everything I can to enable that to happen. Because at least he’s reading and not twitching in front of a game or staring blankly at a the TV screen.

Reading engages the mind far better than a video game. But bad writing will turn anyone off reading. The challenge for genre writers is to make their books better than the games and movies out there. Make readers want to come back for more by making your product the best it can be.

It’s a battle for the hearts and minds of kids and adults and it will ultimately determine whether people read for entertainment or just sit and stare for entertainment. As a writer, I think you  know where I stand.

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