Hunter Hackett January 21, 2015
I am a Millennial born 1989, and I just shocked myself. I looked up and noticed there are no less than four screens directly facing me: two monitors, iPad, and the iPhone resting comfortably between me and the keyboard. With iThis and iThat it's hard not to succumb to the eye candy of the screen. But if my Millennial screen obsession wasn't shocking enough, according to a recent study, nearly 40% of children are using some sort of tablet before they can even speak (nymag.com). What does that mean for physical books? Will Generation Z's "turn the page" become "swipe left?" It's a scary thought as we digitize and minimize, what will become of our bulky book collections? What do we need libraries for? Just build a Starbucks with a wifi connection and I can download any book I want. Not only that, but books are expensive to print, to distribute, and to store... economically they make no sense. (See what I did there?)
As generation after generation becomes more plugged in, physical books will continue to disappear. Thankfully organizations like Google are helping ensure the most dated and obscure information won't disappear completely with the Google Books Library Project (google.com). As books are becoming wildly cheaper to produce and publish digitally, jobs in the publishing industry seem to be disappearing as well—like the Barnes & Noble down the street from me that just closed its doors after being an anchor store for many decades. But won't those jobs just change form? From warehouses to server farms and freight trucks to online distributors. Meanwhile a grand new Central Library just opened up in downtown San Diego.
Mixed messages for sure, but it begs the questions of whether or not physical book locations still have some importance.
I currently work as a publicist at a small publishing house & PR firm StrategiesPR and with the La Jolla Writers Conference, but I am hoping to become a professional Author and Illustrator (see here: Hunter Hackett). Why would I do that if my chosen form of media seems to be growing old and dying all around me? I should be worried, but I'm not. That's probably because I am young and dumb, charging blindly into the fog of the future. But also with the Oscars coming up you may notice that every great movie has a common characteristic, and all great TV shows share that same aspect. And if you look all the way back to a time before we had the tube or the silver screen, or radio even, great books all share this same feature. Before humans even had the written word, guess what? There were storytellers... It's Story! That is what's most important. It’s not about what from it takes, be it painted cave wall, chiseled stone rock, hand-written books, mass market paperback, e-books, or audio books. A great story is transcendent. It will find an audience regardless of the medium.
So really I am not hoping to become a professional Author, I want to be a professional Storyteller. That way it won't matter what form(s) my work is crafted in. Who knows? My kids may only get to experience digital versions of my stories. I hope that isn't the case, but even if it is, if the story is good, will it really matter? As long as I make my stories great, they will be enjoyed in whatever form they take.
Super Cool Children's Author and Illustrator!
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Read on and read always!
It's a wrap.