The Future of Reading, and What We Can Learn from Beyonce

I Woke Up Like This

FULL STOP: Today, we’re flooded with stories via the internet — on personal Tumblrs, Facebook and Twitter statuses, the abundance of magazines and newspapers that make their content free online. With so many narratives all around us, why do we still read (and pay for) novels?

“Oh I’m fairly certain we… don’t any more. We do a little I guess! We all paid for Beyoncé’s album though didn’t we, how do you like that. People will pay for a book for a few reasons:

“• The big books get bought because they’re guaranteed feel-good weepers. (Not a contradiction; see also Upworthy, dogs greeting homecoming veterans, and babies.)

“• The littler books get bought for a few reasons, besides the ‘oh I have heard good things from a trusted purveyor of opinions and I wish to indulge in this book': aspirational purchasing (related to aspirational sharing), which means ‘I want to be the kind of person who buys this book,’ which is less obnoxious than ‘I want to be seen reading this book’ which is less bad than ‘I want to tell people I’m reading this book.’ I mean not that I haven’t done all those things, so you know. Then there are identity reasons; Tao Lin is bought by a cadre of young smart people who want to be in some sort of Smart Kids scene. And then there’s the good old capitalist market-maker: exclusivity. You can’t get it anyhow anyway? Then you’ll buy it.”

-The Awl co-founder Choire Sicha, in an interview with Full Stop, on the future of books, reading and the internet. Read more from The Awl in the Longreads Archive.

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Photo: ch-villa, Flickr

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