In his Fortune magazine article “The Future of Reading,” Josh Quittner analyzes the future of reading and comes to the conclusion that although the methods of reading are changing, it will never completely disappear (like in “Fahrenheit 451”). He also asks several media and tech luminaries for their opinions, which range from believing news will completely migrate online to believing the iPad is the future of all reading material. However, while Quittner’s article mainly focuses on newspapers and magazines, there are many forms of reading out there. The future of reading will be unique for each of the different kinds of current literature: news, magazines, math/science textbooks, and history/language textbooks.RELATED ARTICLES
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The future of news will be online. Newspapers will slowly begin to put more resources into online media and spend less time designing layouts for their paper newspapers. Most people read the news to get a better sense of what is happening around them. They don’t read it for an in-depth analysis of topics. Therefore, a quick scan of a short article is normally all that people desire. One of the reasons news will slowly move to the Web is because there are many news sources around the globe, each with their own viewpoints and subject preferences. Reading news online allows readers to read from multiple news sources and get multiple viewpoints without having to buy five different newspapers. Another reason is the fact that the news changes almost every day. People will not want to buy a newspaper every day to find out about (normally) boring news, such as if a dictionary wants to add an extra word to their tomes or if Comcast and ESPN are in an argument over profits, when they can just get news online for free. It is much more convenient to be able to read news online. Finally, advertising is much more effective online, where the advertisements are scrolling down next to the text. There, they are visible yet unintrusive. In newspapers, the ads are normally grouped together in an advertisement section. Most people simply skip over this.
The future of magazines will be in print and online. People read magazines mostly for in-depth analysis of topics (National Geographic, Time magazine, etc.). It is much easier to sit down and read a magazine than to spend an hour trying to read something on a computer screen. Also, people may appreciate the feeling of having physical reading material rather than something online that could be replaced in a few days.
However, with new inventions such as Apple’s iPad, magazines and their readers will be tempted to use online sources as a way to add interactive material and high-definition movies and photos. Also, it will make advertising substantially easier than in a magazine. Although magazines will thrive in an online environment, their profits won’t be enough to justify eliminating physical magazines.
The future of textbooks will still remain in print—whether they are math, science, history or language. For example, unlike straightforward texts like news, textbooks normally have many side notes and extra content. Also, having a 900-page textbook online may take eons to load and still cause your computer to lag once it does. Even if you download it (after the atrocious download time), it will still lag. Even if it may be beneficial for students to learn online, overprotective parents and educators will claim that it promotes bad habits of spending too much time online. Also, part of the learning experience is being able to write in the textbooks and highlight important information.
In conclusion, while much of future reading will be online, there will always be a place for physical texts. Although text publishing companies may struggle competing for the diminishing number of print sources available, the actual companies doing the writing should have no problem keeping up their profits.
Aaron Chum wrote this essay when he was in ninth grade for a class at Palo Alto High School taught by Esther Wojcicki, director of the school’s journalism program.