DON’T FOR­GET THE DIG­I­TAL UNI­VERSE...

Finweek English Edition - - INSIGHT: LOCAL -

Ha­gen En­gler, a for­mer FHM edi­tor and an author of a slew of self-pub­lished books be­lieves, that “the main threat to books [is] the pop­u­lar­ity of read­ing it­self and the shrink­ing of at­ten­tion spans. Of­ten peo­ple barely have time to watch a 90-minute movie, let alone spare a week to fin­ish a game or even longer for a book”. In En­gler’s view, “dig­i­tal read­ing hasn’t quite taken off in SA yet. Queries about e-book ver­sions tend to come from over­seas (and some still re­quest phys­i­cal copies). Also, the hi­er­ar­chy of me­dia seems to make it the pin­na­cle of achieve­ment for a book to be made into a movie, since that’s ap­par­ently where the big­gest au­di­ence is.”

En­gler sees the same symp­toms that have af­fected the mag­a­zine in­dus­try creep­ing into book pub­lish­ing. “It’s only a mat­ter of time be­fore all niche mag­a­zine pub­li­ca­tions are on­line. Print news­pa­pers seem to shrink in circ [cir­cu­la­tion] and then doggedly hold on at a cer­tain point. They per­form a so­cial ser­vice in their ge­o­graph­i­cal com­mu­ni­ties, so it’s of­ten quite im­por­tant that they sur­vive from a po­lit­i­cal and com­mu­nity point of view. That’s not al­ways the case with mag­a­zines, which have more of a psy­cho-so­cial con­stituency – eas­ily served on­line.”

Is the au­di­ence’s low­ered at­ten­tion span hurt­ing read­ing in gen­eral? “A story has to be good,” Beukes replies. “What makes a story good is plot plus char­ac­ter plus good

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