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'Peak attention' and the survival of books

24 July 2017

A powerfully-argued article in the Bookseller's Futurebook has highlighted how the explosion in social media and freemium games means we have reached saturation point - what the author defines as ‘peak attention', where the time we have available has run out and we have to cut down on something, which will very probably be books.

During the period when the amount of time the average American spent reading fell by 6 minutes a day from 2005 to 2015, they were also spending much more time on online and offline platforms, including one more hour a day over just the last two years, making the amazing figure of 11 hours a day.

What Mads Holmen is prophesying is a world in which there is hyper-competition for people's attention, with Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Netflix competing for the same 24 hours of our time. This will be accomplished by the data feedback loop which will be increasingly used to analyse and report back on what we are doing online.

Something has to give and the author makes out a good case for it being books that will suffer, issuing a rallying call to publishers to act before it is too late.