Print is dying, but are more people reading?

I have a couple dozen sites in my Google reader with many more bookmarked. I have some RSS feeds emailed to me, I read content that's tweeted, Facebooked, and Google+ shared. I read a lot! I bet you do, too.

Although print publishers are starting to embrace mobile, kindle, and blogs, they're late to the party. No news there. However, I think the irony is that content is more easily shared and consumed than any other time in history. We're smack dab in the middle of the information age and people are more engaged than ever!

Within a few minutes on Twitter, I know the day's headlines. A few more minutes going through my RSS feeds gets me the latest tech news, social media trends, and business highlights. I read first thing in the morning, all throughout the day, and I begrudgingly turn off the computer or smartphone before I shut off the light for the night. I'm a readaholic.

I'm smarter than I've ever been in my life. I know more, I'm more well-rounded, and I'm exposed to a greater variety of ideas, viewpoints, and voices. I'm more business savvy and more marketable than at any other point in my career. I'm an educated woman of the 21st century and information is my BFF.

Do you read more today than you did five years ago? Do you know more? Are you relying on print less, but smarter than you once were?


  1. Words Done Write ,

    It seems information is my BFF too -- what clever phrasing!

    I do read more than I did 5 years ago, I feel like I know more, and I'd like to say I'm smarter than ever before.

    Sorta like info with turbos this digital age has become.

    By the way, I just installed the kindle app on my Android, and I have 2 Ebooks waiting for my attention...


  2. I think my reliance on print is about the same. That may be due to the fact that I have not yet purchased an e-reader. Even if I did, I think I would still require print for at least two reasons. One, many of the books I read, especially the ones related to poetry or literary theory, aren't available in a digital format. Two, I write notes in the books' margins (and everywhere else - nothing is sacred). I know you can do that with digital books, but I don't think it would be the same. There's just something about writing all over a book while I'm studying it or thinking about how I'm going to review it.

    I do spend an inordinate amount of time reading online, though. That reading sometimes is related to writing, but, in most cases, it's related to marketing, business, and social media. In those areas, I do rely on online sources more than print ones. I don't know if all that reading makes me smarter. I think it makes me realize how much I still don't know.

  3. I like your POV. Am I smarter?  Not necessarily. Am I better informed? Definitely. But "Where is all the knowledge we lost with information?" as T.S. Eliot asks. I read much more, yes, I skim/scan through oodles of stuff, yes. I find out about new and old things, yes. How much of it do I retain? More than when I really went into the subject and read a book or several about something I was interested in? I'm certain that you are more business savvy and marketable than ever before. This is the 21st century. In the 20th century, I was more business savvy and marketable than most of my colleagues or much younger people - and I read, really read, much, much more than I do today on a wide variety of subjects - all print.

  4. Thanks for chiming in with your thoughts on the subject, Keri! I was pretty sure others had to feel the same way on this one. Information is just so readily available these days.

    Have you heard about the new Kindle feature where you can tweet questions to the author via the ebook???? I think that's just the neatest thing ever!

  5. Hey Erin! Oh, I still love books, too. I guess I'm thinking more of daily consumption. People used to pick up a newspaper or toss one of their magazine subscriptions in their bags. Today, that's such a small dose of info compared to what's on the web. What we see every day if we turn on a computer or use a smartphone.

    You're observation is very astute and humble. Yeah, I guess all this knowledge does show us how little we know about many subjects. However, I think that gap can be quickly filled based on how readily available the information is today. I read about something I don't know and within minutes I've researched it and know about it. I think that's just the neatest thing. There's no reason not to devour knowledge like it's ice cream. It's there, it's free, and it's just screaming for us to consume it! ;-)

  6. Amber, I couldn't agree with you more.  I often feel that there are not enough hours in the day to allow me the joy of reading all that I want to read....and there has definitely been a paradigm shift as to where we get our reading materials.... I used to read 3-4 books a week for information and/or pleasure.   I now inundate myself with information all day long via the internet, and, perhaps sadly, I rarely have enough time to sit and read a traditional book.  I also agree with you that I,too, feel smarter and more well rounded than I have ever felt in my life.  If I am curious about a particular subject, it doesn't matter where I am or what time of day it is... I have access to the internet via my smartphone or my iPad.  And while I sometimes feel overwhelmed and over saturated with information, I am addicted to this constant learning's like school everyday but WAY more fun and interesting. Great post!!

  7. You bring up some good questions. And bonus points for a T.S. Eliot quote ;-)

    Better informed versus smarter? Interesting distinction. I think perhaps we all know a little about a lot. Perhaps less when it comes to in depth knowledge of a subject. Hmmm.

    Interesting points, Penelope. Definitely worth pondering...

  8. Hi Claudia! Yes, it is like school every day, huh? But we're now adults who realize learning is a privilege, not a punishment.

    I've always been a curious person, so it's wonderful to indulge that curiosity so easily. I still read books and enjoy doing so, but when it comes to daily behaviors, I'm all about immediate gratification. That comes from digital world. I mean, to think of a world without Wikipedia is a cruel, cruel thought!

    Thanks for adding your viewpoint to the discussion, Claudia ;-) 

  9. I had seen a blip about this, but thought I must have read wrong...

    That is a pretty groovy-cool feature!! :)

  10. Is it sad that I didn't even think about newspapers or magazines while reading your article? I suppose that shows how much I actually do rely on my online sources. :)

  11. Yeppers, it's real! Here's a link to the story:

  12. Ha ha. That IS sad and kind of my point. Thanks for chiming in, Erin. Always a pleasure ;-)

  13. I'm not sure if I'm smarter but I do know about things I wouldn't have been introduced to without the Internet. And definitely wouldn't be conversing with people on the other side of the world!
    I have to say though, I sell paper and the largest portion of my customer base are print shops. Printing continues to be alive and well. It, like many other businesses have had to do, reinvent what their business is all about with the introduction of technology. Graphic design is not limited to creating online websites and pages.
    Kids can't color a computer, brides can't send out email invitations...well they could but...
    And frankly, there are so many families still here in the US that depend on printed forms and such because they can't afford the technology that many of  take for granted.Technology and the web are changing our world as we know it, but we still need to find a way to include everyone on that journey before we declare print to be dead. Check out #HelpPrintThrive on Twitter.

  14. I do read more than I did 5 years ago but for me its how that information can be organized.  I break this down by general, career, volunteering and fun.  General being news; Career is the techie stuff; volunteering is the immigration campaigning; fun is the sci-fi and comics.  Facebook, Google+, Twitter is organized in the same way.  I also feel more up to date than I ever did, and if I have to speak about one of my subjects I can come across as more knowledgeable.  I also spend less money reading than I did 5+ years ago, before most information was only available in print, but now its generally for free online, the most I spend is an electronic subscription to The Guardian which is next to nothing.  My only caveat is the validity of the information, there is a lot of bad stuff out there and people need to assess the source from which its coming from.

  15. I said "dying", not dead. :-) There's still hope and much to be said for the tangible aspects of print. Curling up with a Kindle on a rainy day just isn't the same as a book. No argument there.

    The examples you mention are good ways that print is staying alive, but they are not information based. Forms, invites, coloring books. All good stuff, but not things we learn from. I'm talking about the ways we used to get all our info: books, magazines, newspapers, etc.

    My background is in print and I have lots of friends still working in traditional media. I hear you, Cheri. Truly. And small printers and paper shops like yours provide a valuable service. As I tweeted you earlier, I prefer traditional print newsletters to e-newsletters. Hands down.

    I wouldn't want print to disappear. Ever. However, when I need a quick answer, I go to Wikipedia and not the old school set of encyclopedias in the basement ;-)

  16. Money. Good point, Steven. It used to be that knowledge was more easily available to those who could afford the education. A book can cost $20 or more if you can't find it at the library. But, with the digital world, so much knowledge is out there for free.

    Your point about credibility is important, though. It's still up to us to verify the trustworthiness of our sources and ferret out the facts.

    Thanks for chiming in, Steven!

  17. I'm so smart now my head is the size of Barry Bonds head on steroids.....I thought your NoCal friends might appreciate that.............:).

    I too read..........a lot............and even though it seems like I'm trying to absorb knowledge with the drinking water through a fire hose method; some of it is actually sticking. I fell I'm well rounded enough I can at least ask questions in almost any conversation. 

    I'm old school and still like print; but once I get a Kindle it might change. I'm always eager to keep learning in whatever shape, form or fashion that is.

    Hope you are well and have a great Labor Day weekend. 

  18. I'm reading as much print as I always have and that's a lot. The difference is that now I'm combining print with e-media. I couldn't do without either, even though I bought an iPad to take with me on trips, I always carry a paperback with me as well. I'll never want to be without paper. Ever.

  19. I've always been a ferocious reader, but I still prefer paper when reading books. I have still managed to resist buying a Kindle. I know, I'm really late to the party, but I love the whole experience of spending a Saturday afternoon in a gorgeous book shop, or waiting for books to arrive in the post etc. Having said that I have learnt so much on-line re social media and all techie related issues, as just a year ago I hadn't even dared venture onto Facebook, Twitter or having  a blog.So my "education" over the last 5 years has increased tremendously, but it has been a two-pronged attack ;-)
    Great post Amber.

  20. Good point about being well rounded enough to ask questions. Knowledge isn't always about being the expert, it's mostly about being the student.

    I still enjoy a magazine and a hard cover book, too. However, when it comes to my daily habits, they're digital. That's where the lion's share of my content consumption originates.

    Thanks for chiming in, Bill, and sharing your thoughts ;-)

  21. Hey Jean, thanks for adding your perspective. For fiction, I prefer a book, too.

    I suspect many adults are in the same boat as you. Holding on to print, but embracing the new tech tools. Should be interesting to see what this conversation evolves into over the next few years, huh?

  22. Multiple prongs are good ;-)

    As I was saying to Jean below, I love books, too. For longer reads, I still much prefer print. It's really my daily habits that are centered around digital. The news I used to get from newspapers, magazines, and TV/radio news, I now get from the web. And since it's so easy and quick, I tend to consume much more information than I did in the past.

    As for getting books by mail, I love to get anything in my mailbox that isn't a bill! A big box from Amazon just makes my day, though ;-)

    Thanks for adding to the discussion, Vanessa!

  23. Re: " I'm an educated woman of the 21st century and information is my BFF." 

    Loved that line! 

    Personally, yes, I'm reading more (a lot more) these days and feeling smarter for it. I like to think that my writing has improved as a result too. I still read in both formats - online (lots), and books (my favorite). It's easy for me to get lost at the bookstore. It used to be that I bought dvd's once/twice a week. Now, that's been replaced with a good book and an iced Americano (a much better habit). 

  24. Vanessa: I'm with you... I can get lost in a bookstore ALL day and have fun doing it. 

  25. Hi Ricardo! Thanks for stopping by!

    Yeah, I love books, too. It would be such a great loss if we lose bookstores. Although, I suspect it's inevitable.

    I guess I was thinking more about newspapers, magazines, and such. The sources where we used to get our daily news. The ONLY place we could get it.

    Now, anyone can be a content generator. Who needs to read the Opinion section of their local newspaper to hear varying thoughts and opinions? They're EVERYWHERE now! The world is a-changing.

    Enjoy the book and the iced Americano ;-)

  26. I feel like my brain is packed with info, sometimes I'm overwhelmed! By choice, by infomation... Maybe I'm better informed these days, but I definitely have a shorter attentions span too.

  27. No kidding, Lauren! I think the web has given us all a severe case of attention deficit disorder.

    It's like...

    Wait, I'm sorry. What were we talking about? ;-)

  28. To a point, yes, I read more than I did five years ago. But more for fun than "information." The bulk of the blogs and online reading I do is for personal stuff, or research for something I might be doing on my blog.

    The print newspaper is becoming thinner and thinner though and that bothers me in that I am a reader of newspapers. As someone who worked in newspapers for many years (I became a victim of the "downsizing" this past February), I still love the feel of a newspaper in the morning. But as it gets smaller, the news is done online and I find myself only skimming.

    Blogs and sports stuff, I read more of online because it's easier. But news, to me, is harder when online. And my eyes have a hard time with the screen.

    That being said, I love my Kindle... :)

  29. Hey P.J.!

    As a veteran of the LA Times, I know about the layoffs and the thinner paper. Both very sad.

    There are still lots of folks who love tangible things to hold and enjoy. It's bizarre to know that kids being born today will likely never know that feeling.

    Seems like a lot of us today are hybrid readers. One foot still in the print world, and one in the digital realm. That's changing quickly, though. Ask Borders Books.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the subject, P.J.!


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