I’ll wait for the movie to come out.

I found myself thinking that when I looked at the newish book by Daniel H. Wilson, presented proudly on the bestseller’s shelf at Barnes and Noble. Robopocalypse. Great name.

When did I become that guy who doesn’t read the book and waits for the movie? I remember that I actually sized up the book; how many pages? How big is the font? How many hours will it require to read? And that last one is the real issue – How long will it take?

I think this is a big issue for many people these days. It’s not that they wouldn’t like to sit down with a glass of cold lemonade and while away the afternoon and evening reading a good book. It’s that we’re all so busy. Anyone who is fortunate to have a job feels it. The economy as it is, companies have cut to the lean and they are expecting to do the same amount of work with fewer staff. This means everyone has to do more, and technology does not help us unplug. Most everyone has a cell phone and can be called at any hour. E-mail, remote networking and cloud computing enable us all to work, no matter when or where we are. We need our jobs so we do it, and unplugging from work has never been more difficult than it is right now. The fulcrum on work/life balance is skewed badly towards ‘work’.

Now, I read plenty these days. I read about SQL database administration, Run As profiles and accounts, Monitoring and failed workflows in Operations Manager. I’ll tell you this for nothing – the plot sucks and no one lives happy ever after in any of those books. Reading for pleasure has become a true luxury, and it’s one I adore and miss.

So, as someone who thinks he is a writer, I’m perplexed by this dynamic not because it’s affecting me personally, but it impacts so many others who are like me. If I don’t have time to read, they don’t either, and slanting completely selfish – who will have time to read my writing?

I think authors that have targeted the Young Adult market are brilliant. Teenagers and pre-teens are not as burdened as their parents. That’s not saying that school doesn’t place incredible demands on them, but it just means they have more time to read. Now, writing something that really appeals to them – that is the hard part! Rowling and Meyer figured it out. Brilliant. Romance novels also sell very well, and so there’s another market that is still healthy.

But mainstream fiction – no vampires that shimmer and no Fabio on the cover of the book – just a good story about ordinary people challenged with an interesting problem – that is a tough, tough market. I’m not talking about a market as in selling a book. I’m talking about just getting read.

What can I do about it? Maybe nothing, but I can do something about my own reading situation. I have a week of vacation coming up in July. One of the things I will do that week is read Robopocalypse by Daniel H. Wilson and Russell Connor’s new book, Whitney. Of course, I’ll write and spend time with my family, too. I’m looking forward to it very much.

Doing something like that used to be so simple. It isn’t anymore and maybe it never will be, but I can work it in. I’ll put in overtime to do it.



  1. I don’t know if my first try didn’t do a slippery eel and disappear but…if it did…
    I guess Novellas are the way to go. Shorter at 40 to 80 thousand words. Publishers insist on 100,000 minimum — so maybe they will have to come out of their dream to cater for the new super time challenged reader. Then it would take about the same time as a movie.

    Just maybe…in the future one will ingest a tablet say of “War and Peace’ — just before bedtime and we’ll read the whole damn thing in our sleep. But someone still has to write ’em.


  2. Hi Kate. I don’t know if others are evaluating the time investment involved in reading the same way I do, but being that time is in short supply these days, I think it is more true than not. A movie tells a whole story in about 2 hours. Reading an average book takes me 4 times as long. The math works in favor of the movie.

    We have become so focused on doing more, faster… it has leaked into how we relax and entertain ourselves. “How can I relax quicker?” “How can I get the whole story, faster?”

    I don’t see this trend stopping. It’s enough to make somebody grab their Rubik’s cube and run off to live in a cave on a mountain.

  3. I have a pile of books waiting for me, and am reading Patti Smith’s memoir. JUST KIDS….and enjoying htat very much.

    But, it is going into overtime to get the reading done…it often comes down to a choice ie. to read or to write…
    And I get annoyed when I read a book and I am not happy about it..I feel like so much precious time has been wasted..
    But when i strike one that is truly a great read, I am blissful..though they can be few and far between…

    Maybe I have become far too fussy..
    Then again, I have read a lot of books across the years..
    I’m part of that tough market, no doubt about it.. XX

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