The economy’s crashed, everyone’s poor except the 1% of the world’s population that’s been hogging most of the dough all along, and print media is dying. If you write, if you read, or even if you only know how to do either – you know that print media is far beyond stage 3 of drowning. Victims asphyxiate at stage 5. All five stages happen in under two minutes, and everything ‘print’ is going down fast.
And this is a bummer, you see, because I sort of expect my livelihood to have a foundation in words. Usually words are for reading. And it’s always been on a page. But the big question facing publishers, authors, and a whole host of other word-meddling folk is the effectiveness of those words floating in cyberspace and reading so impermanently from your computer screen.
NavPress just released an online verse memorization tool in the spirit of “going digital”. Since so many spend so much time on the computer, the tool is compatible with this intangible desktop/laptop lifestyle. Seems brilliant, and one of only a handful of alternatives. Magazines are going out of print by the day, books are twitter-based and lack hard copies, and without these little innovative tricks, publishing could go down with the whole mess.
My professor, three years ago, called this the “unbundled age”. It’s the time when genre is moved to a season of its existence where things are reader- or listener-chosen. The consumer wants the most control she can have. If it’s on itunes, she wants to choose only the songs that she wants to choose – one song at a time, compiling her own listening library. If it’s a book or magazine, the whole thing is having trouble selling – but pieces of it will go with ease. Links to 1500 word stories eat up maybe 10 minutes of Internet time, more manageable than the week of piecemeal hours it takes to read a book cover to cover. Three years ago, I wasn’t quite sure what to think about all of this unbundled-genre propaganda. But, as we turn the page *er*, as we open up new browser tabs, his theories are proving to be prophetic.