Monday, January 9, 2017

Digital Fatigue

Is it real? Is there such a thing as digital fatigue? More and more people spend their work day using some kind of tech device. It might not be a computer. It could be a tablet or a smartphone. Then our recreation time is turning ever more toward using our phones and tablets. We read the news on them. We watch movies and sports on them. We play games on them, communicate with videos and chats. If our leisure time is spent in much the same way as the work day, is it really relaxing?

It is what you read when you don’t have to that determines what you will be when you can’t help it.–Oscar Wilde


There is some evidence, that readers are the first to rebel against the digital takeover of their leisure time. Young people lead the pack for abandoning their tech when they want to just read for pleasure. Publishers Weekly uses digital fatigue as one of the links in the anchor chain that has dragged down eBook sales numbers. Though many see the resurgence in print sales numbers, others claim only the coloring book craze brought about that little bump.

My local group had our monthly meeting this past Saturday. As usual at our first on the year meeting, we spend some time talking about the state of the industry. A surprising bit of good news was shared by a member. After being writing a number of books for a 'digital only' imprint of one of the big publishers, she and a few others received contracts to headline a new mass-market imprint. Not too many years ago, publishers were claiming mass market was dead except for 'big name' authors. Most print was trade-size paperback. Nearly all POD books, like most small presses use, are for trade-size. But lots of people don't want to spend the $10 to $18 that bookstores ask for the trade size. Hence, the popularity of the $7 to $10 mass market.

All this makes my head buzz. I'm so glad I work with a publisher rather than trying to make it on my own as in indie author. Trying to keep up with the twists and turns of the publishing industry exhausts me. I'm rather sure no one really knows what the new, shiny thing is going to be.

“He loved books, those undemanding but faithful friends.” 
― Victor HugoLes Misérables

I love reading 'real' books and I love reading on my Kindle. I love the ease of purchasing an eBook and I love browsing in a book store. I love thinking of a book I've written sitting on a bookshelf in a store, but I also love knowing I'm making money from people downloading an eBook.

Where is human nature so weak as in the bookstore?–Henry Ward Beecher


The good news about the digital fatigue is that many have seen a resurgence in bookstores, especially indie bookstores. I've even heard B&N is doing a bit better. They plan to close some of their huge impersonal stores and open smaller 'book's only venues. That sounds good for writers.

Any good news on the writing front from your point of view? Do you take a tech-break at all? Does you job require lots of 'screen' time for you?






25 comments:

  1. Who'd have thought when the first cell phone came on the market it would lead to the smart phone we have today?.
    I spend a great amount of time on my phone for one thing or another. Loved also the quote by Oscar Wilde.

    Yvonne.

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  2. Considering I work on a computer all day, I do believe digital fatigue is real.

    I still don't like mass markets. With all other book sizes, bookstores return the books. With mass markets, they rip off the cover, return it, and destroy the book. What a waste!

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  3. yay for a positive book outlook in 2017!! i love a good resurgence! and i hope digital fatigue hits the boys in my house - i'm tired of watching them "plug in" and i'm tired of nagging them about it - that's my digital fatigue!

    and wanted to thank you for supporting my cradle rock release tour!
    happy 2017!

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  4. It would make my head swim. Glad I don't have to worry about it.
    Digital fatigue is one reason I took time off over the holidays.

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  5. I try to give myself a break by giving myself deadlines to shut down the computer for the day, to no longer check email for the night, etc. I find it helps my mind quiet down when I do that.

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  6. It would sure make me go crazier. That's why I just ignore it and keep on a truckin' haha digital fatigue I can see, why sometimes I unplug at my sea

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  7. Interesting stuff to think about. I currently don't bother with print since I have mostly novellas, but I would highly consider print when I start putting out novels again. I did take a tech break over the holidays only because my poor head said no more! :)

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  8. I do a lot of reading on my Kindle and I don't find much difference between it and a book. In fact some books are a lot harder to hold. Not working any more so have not experienced digital fatigue, luckily.

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  9. I don't work with computers or devices for my day job, so I can't say anything about digital fatigue. hubby does, and will come home and play video games the rest of the night, so it doesn't seem to affect him.

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  10. I am a print book person at heart, though ebooks are way more convenient to carry around - a major consideration for anyone who moves countries often. I don't have a day job but write/read on devices and yes, digital fatigue is an issue. Consciously switch off from time to time and do something that does NOT involve a screen.

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  11. I read both digital and print. I find myself getting digital fatigue with social media, but it's an addiction and I do it anyway. Funny, though, when I want to read something inspirational, I always go to print.

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  12. The publishing world is always going to change. Trends don't often last, even if they last for years. I don't experience digital fatigue from ebooks, but I do get it from social media, emails, etc.

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  13. Digital fatigue is quite real. Much as I like my gizmos, I feel so much better if I unplug for a couple of days. Less headaches. Less stress.

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  14. I never felt any digital fatigue. I've felt tired from being on social media, but not from being online in general. I pretty much always have some screen going, whether I'm working or not.

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  15. I love reading on my devices - which continues to surprise me. There are some books though that I will always read in hard cover! :)

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  16. My job has no screen time, so i seldom get digital fatigue. As for books, nothing like reading, no matter the medium!

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  17. I spend most of my day on a computer for work and my nights writing on one. I have a kindle but I have to say I really like reading a real book better.

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  18. An interesting post, Susan. I believe in digital fatigue and often suffer from it :) I love days when I don't use any techno visual gadget. Paper and pen for writing. Hardback books to read. Heavenly days :)

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  19. Hi Susan - I am glad occasionally to get away from the screen - but my reading is usually articles, though I'm trying to read more - I need to have a new routine ... so read etc in the morning, then use the machine for the rest of the day - interspersed with all the other daily things - so I get the reading in. I really am not that keen on the phone or the ipad for that matter - useful when I'm away ...

    Cheers Hilary

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  20. I take lots of tech breaks, but I credit my age. While I'm a techie and have been for 40 years, I still love the act of just being. Watching the sun set. Bird watching. And holding my new book in my hands. Being able to smell the paper and feel the cover. Nothing like it.

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  21. I'm probably not one of the overall digital fatigue victims because I try to limit my phone, computer, ebook time and instead read real print books. I am recovering, however, from social media fatigue/stress. I'm so over Facebook!! Currently I'm reading Deep Work by Cal Newport, and all of us writers should be paying attention to the concept. Non-writers too.

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  22. Give me a real book to read any day of the week. I'm on the computer a lot, but it is becoming a bit wearying. Maybe a nice long walk in quiet woods is long overdue for me.

    You're fortunate to have a publisher and not have to deal with all that on your own.

    Arlee Bird
    Tossing It Out

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  23. Digital fatigue is real. I try to take a non-tech day when I can. I would also take real books over digital any day of the week.

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  24. I get overwhelmed by e-mails and bite-sized digital time that seems to expand to hours. I try to get away from it now and then. I read for only certain amounts of time on a screen and then, if I feel like a book is expensive and it's from a major imprint, I go to the library for a paperback. Even my youngest daughter, who reads 2 books a week, varies from paperback to e-book these days - mostly all from the library- which is not good news for authors, I know, but when a teen girl reads 100+ books a year and has a budget, she only buys 5-10 of them or receives them as gifts. She's been reading more paperback since some of her homework is online this year for an online ancient history and literature class. Imagine reading Niomachean Ethics or Oedipus Rex on a screen - she falls asleep without the pages of a real book for those.

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