Future of Print Takes Center Stage at Book Business Conference & Expo
“The exhibitors were also extremely pleased,” he added. “The traffic was virtually nonstop through the expo hall for two days, despite the subfreezing, windy weather.”
The Grand Opening Session: What the Digital Future Holds
The conference got underway at 9 a.m. on Mon., March 5, with an hour-long presentation by Dr. Jeffrey Cole of the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication. Cole serves as director of the Center for the Digital Future and heads up its ongoing study of Internet use, now in its seventh year.
Humbly referring to himself as “a mover, although not necessarily a shaker,” Cole’s style was as advertised. He continually paced the front of the Marriott’s crowded Broadway Ballroom, while deftly guiding attendees through some of the more poignant findings from his most recent research, including the impact the Internet is having on mass media.
“With no hyperbole whatsoever, we can say that the Internet is reversing 550 years of media trends that began with Gutenberg and his bible in Germany in the 15th century,” said Cole. “Up until the Internet, all mass communication has been from the few to the many, and the many have had very poor ways of communicating back. And if you look at today’s Internet users, they’re making it clear: They don’t
just want to receive information, they want to generate it. They want to be the source.”
He added, “If you talk to teenagers, the message is clear. It’s not 15 minutes of
fame they care about anymore, it’s 15 megabytes of fame. Because 15 minutes is gone in 15 minutes, and 15 megabytes last forever.”
It’s finding a way to connect with this up-and-coming generation of consumers and users that is a publisher’s real challenge, he said.
A piece of good news for book publishers: Cole’s research shows that while the Internet is having a significant impact on the amount of time consumers spend watching TV, the Internet is not significantly impacting the amount of time consumers spend reading books.