Sunday, June 21, 2015

State of Digital Affairs Impacts Books

Which social media platforms are favored by the youth of America?  According a 2015 Internet Trends Report released by USA Today, of 12 to 24-year-olds, 74% are on Facebook.  59% are on Instagram and 57% are on Snapchat.  Just 32% are on Twitter and 30% use Vine.  Google+ is used by 26% and 20% use Pinterest.  15% are on WhatsApp.

Just 20 years ago, says the report, 30 million worldwide users were online.  Now it’s 2.8 billion people.  In that corresponding time, 1.25% of the world used a mobile phone.  Now, 73% or 5.2 billion use one.

However, the number of global Internet users is increasing at a declining rate. In 2012, an increase of 11% in users took place.  Then 10% two years ago, and now 8% last year.

The biggest trend is the increase in mobile.  The number of hours spent with devices has greatly increased in a short period of time.  In just six years, from 2008 to 2014, the number of hours spent by adult Americans on tech devices doubled to 5.3 hours per day.  Now, in fairness, the types of devices and their capabilities has greatly changed.  In that time period, iPads came out and smartphones took over.  They not only give us email and games or social media, but they give us eBooks and streaming video.  I would expect the usage to still increase.  Mobile went from 20 minutes a day in 2008 to 160 minutes in 2014 – an eight-fold increase.  Desktop/laptop usage increased by a little over 10% but declined about 8% from 2011.

So this study tells us what we already know – we’re tethered to our devices and dependent on them for everything.  We don’t shop, socialize, or entertain without a device nearby.  

What does this mean for books?

Print books are endangered to just by Amazon or eBooks but by the fact people look to everything being online.  How do you pull someone away from the busy world found in the palm of your hand to quietly read a good old paper book?

While attending the annual book trade show, Book Expo America, there were a number of exhibitors parading their latest software that turns a paper children’s book into an animated digital book with sound and movement.  Once we get our youngest kids weaned on digital books there will be little hope of introducing paper later.

We need more studies showing exactly how people spend time with their devices.  What are they viewing, reading or surfing exactly?  How much time is spent reading books, digital or paper?

For the next decade the trend is clear.  We’ll add more people to the list of device users, mostly those from the lower economic strata and seniors – and all users will gradually increase their level of usage in terms of time.

I’m also certain, given the immigration policies and patterns, Spanish online will grow.  The digital world makes it easier to find things in other languages, so rather than forcing people to learn English – which they should – you’ll see more non-English usage online.

Additionally, the Internet will see greater growth overseas, in communist nations with limited use, such as China and Cuba, or in poor, tech-deficient areas like Africa.

However, in 15-20 years, there’ll be no more growth.  We’ll max out on who has a device and how much time is spent online.  The Internet Big Bang will cease to forever expand but by the thinnest of margins.  What will happen then?  Will anyone be reading books in 2032?

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Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2015

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