Reading in the new century

Reading in the future is really reading in the now, I suppose. How have we changed as readers in the 21st Century? (On some core level, I still think of 2000 as “the future”, so the fact that next year is 2020 is sort of baffling and upsetting. That said, I still don’t have my jetpack. Nor do I live in stylish 1970s housing on the inside of a rotating cylinder in space.)

For a while we were told that books were going to be a thing of the past. A new century had dawned, our lives were being digitised and surely there was no longer any reason to lug the pressed pulp of dead trees around. And yet, over the past decade, it seems clear that the death of the book has been greatly exaggerated. As we move into the 2020s there are plenty of reasons to celebrate the resurgence of the book – while also acknowledging that other avenues for storytelling are opening not only in the marketplace but in readers’ minds. The fact that we spend more and more time online may mean that we are increasingly distracted from reading… but it can also mean that readers have more avenues to find the stories they want and need.

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