Is the Focus on Devices and Not Readers a Big Mistake?

In Discussion by Edward Nawotka

girl reading

By Edward Nawotka

The publishing media cloud has been obsessed with the introduction of new reading devices. For example, just yesterday, a flurry of posts announced the news of price drops for the Kindle and the Nook (Yes, naturally, we too reported on it). As our lead story today outlines, this same enthusiasm for gadgets seems to have infected publishing executives — how could it not? But is publishing somehow missing the point? Shouldn’t the focus be on consumers, their rate of adoption, their interests and, ultimately, their needs?

Most consumers will only buy one — at most — new dedicated device for reading a year, and will continue to read on various legacy platforms, be it an older iPhone or first generation Kindle (as I do). Shouldn’t, at some level, the focus shift back to the books themselves and what kinds of content readers want and at what price point?¬†Are you fed up with device news? If so, what do you think the priority for covering the developments of the digital industry should be? And what should CEOs really be worrying about?

Personally, I maintain that if the industry would focus more on putting out better books, they’d sell more books. Likewise, if the books are compelling enough, readers will be happy to read them on almost any format — from Palm Pilot (which I did with Jonathan Franzen’s The Corrections) to the iPad (which I plan to do with Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom when it is published this August).

Let us know what you think in the comments.

About the Author

Edward Nawotka

A widely published critic and essayist, Edward Nawotka serves as a speaker, educator and consultant for institutions and businesses involved in the global publishing and content industries. He was also editor-in-chief of Publishing Perspectives since the launch of the publication in 2009 until January 2016.