The emergence of digital music is the subject and the impact of the iPod and the reminder that the physical media is not as important as the content.
He quotes from an article by Matt Richtel in the New York Times to describe the yearning the young have for information.
“Experts who study computer use say the stated yearning to stay abreast of things may mask more visceral and powerful needs, as many self-aware users themselves will attest. Seductive, nearly inescapable needs. Some theorise that constant use becomes ritualistic behaviour, even addiction, the absorption of nervous energy, like chomping gum.” pg 77.
I can understand the addiction for information but surely books are a different experience4 and offer an alternative if anything to those pressures. Maybe I’m sounding a bit too much like Sven Birkerts there…
But the next generation is getting used to expecting its information and its choices to come on demand.
“This is how high the stakes are for book publishers. If they don’t adapt to the habits of the new generation, they can forget about selling much of anything to them and those who follow. Yet, so far, most publishers are reacting cautiously if not indifferently, the same way that the music industry discounted the invention and the rise of the MP3”. Pg 80
Generation download is also the generation of upload. Using YouTube as an example he shows how a generation has opted to produce their own content and become part of the internet as well as watching it. Classic Web 2.0 stuff.
The pressure is on the publishing industry to provide the tools to encourage interaction.
“The publishing industry needs to realise this, and it needs to also find a way to get to those kids by making content available in a way that will first reach them (i.e digitally) and then will give them the tools to interact with it and share it (post excerpts on their MySpace pages, email chapters to friends, IM paragraphs across class etc.). If not, there are dozens of ways this generation will choose to spend their time, and none of them will involve books.” Pg 97.
Gomez starts to pull together the strands of the last few chapters and points out that there have been fundamental changes with attitudes and consumption of film, music and TV and the world has changed. Therefore there has to be a change in books.
“Prose will be left behind unless it makes strident efforts to adapt to this ‘I want it now’ on-demand model.” Pg 111.