Though e-books, bookstore closings, and self-publishing are dominating book news these days, there is actually something more fundamental changing about the business of books. Something that will shape the future of books and reading as much, and maybe more than, any of these. And it’s as simple as it is revolutionary—readers are now in control.
Not critics, or agents, or publishers, or authors. Readers.
This is not the silent control of buying books either; it is control of the way books are written, published, publicized, read, and remembered.
You’ve seen this, even if you didn’t notice it. You saw it when you preferred a GoodReads recommendation to a New York Times review. When you checked an Amazon review before buying a book. When you liked an author on Facebook or did an on-line read-a-long. If you read a blog (and especially if you write one), you have seen first hand what can happen when readers get together with other readers. And I think what we’ve learned so far is that there is no wrong way to talk about books.
The forms of this control are still in the early stages of development. Each platform has its strengths and weaknesses, its fans and its detractors. What is clear at this point, though, is that beyond the covers and critics, the signings and sequels, the bestsellers and the best-ofs, our love of reading exceeds the traditional ways books have been discussed. We don’t want to be pitched, scolded, flattered, implored, or instructed; we want to revel in reading and to find others who share our passions.
Engaging with fellow readers feels so crucial because what we want from books is impossible. We read to be inspired and we read to deal with sadness. We read to feel connected just as we read to be alone. We read to seem smart and we read because we are all too aware of our ignorance. We read for story and for character and for beautiful sentences and ideas and escape and information and to pass the time and to make time slow down. Only other readers understand this.
And that’s why we made Book Riot. We’re readers just like you who want a place to talk about books in whatever form strikes us. To discuss with others what we like, what we hate, and what we think. It’ll be a little messy sometimes. A little weird and a little chaotic. But along with that, it should also be liberating.
So take a look around, see what you like. We’ve got a bunch of smart, fun, passionate people writing about books in a bunch of smart, fun, and passionate ways. Let us know what you think in the comments, on Twitter, on Facebook, on Tumblr, in an email or strapped to the leg of carrier pigeon; we’re anxious to hear what you think and what you’d like to see us do.
So welcome aboard–this riot is just getting started.