Monday, 21 May 2012

Reader Desire

By Richard Jay Parker

Fifty Shades of Grey and other erotic novels are presently enjoying a real 'surge' and industry analysts are putting this down to the Kindle and its anonymous appearance irrespective of what its owner is reading.  There's no cover visible any more.  The theory is that because nobody knows what you're downloading or reading users are being a little more daring in their choice of material.

I wonder if this will work against certain works of literary fiction?  There is a belief that a lot of Booker Prize winning works are purchased by readers who want to be seen reading them.  Covers are often used as badges of identity.  Without being able to display that cover on the train or beach will a certain percentage of people now just opt for what they really want to read rather than what they think they should be seen reading?

Lots of people keep a document minimised in their task bar just in case the boss passes and they want to give the impression that they're in the middle of their work and not surfing the internet for cheap holidays.  I wonder if there will be an app for the ebook that a reader can similarly spring in case someone looks over their shoulder and it looks like they're reading Chekhov rather than E L James?

Joking aside, if it means people are going to spend time with material that genuinely engages them this can only be good news and it will be interesting to see what effect this has on book charts.  Ebook and high street charts already differ enormously and with Waterstones getting into bed with Amazon we'll perhaps get even more of an insight into what readers truly enjoy.

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