That’s the title of Stephen Abram’s keynote at TOC this morning. It’s an important question as a number of studies and trends have made abundantly clear, including the NEA’s overly pessimistic To Read or Not to Read study. So much of Stephen’s rapid-fire message is both contrarian and hopeful, but in a working class, roll-up-your-sleeves-and-get-to-work kind of way. As head of O’Reilly’s online presence, several of Stephen’s points stood out for me:
- More people are reading now. They are just reading differently.
- Facebook is the new threat to publishers, not Google.
- Publishing and writing, the sharing of ideas, is fundamentally a part of Web 2.0 technologies.
- Old formats die. The novel as we know it has only been around since the 1800s.
- To be relevant, publishers have to be available at the point of need.
- University of Alberta library doing all referencing in Facebook, and has 5000 visitors a night in Second Life.
- Syndication is increasingly important. If you’re still trying to create a destination site, you’re messing up.
- User intention paths. Have to adapt to your users, and not create barriers. Otherwise, they’ll bypass you.
- Phone is the dominant global device. Is your content ready?
- 85% of Stephen’s colleagues in China read books on their phones.
- Do you want to help create the world, or let it happen to you?
There’s way more I could write about Stephen’s talk, but Bill Burger from the Copyright Clearance Center is up next.