The next 5 years of publishing: the future of reading and content consumption – part 1 [OPINION]


In the run up to Publishing: the next 5 years, BookMachine will be featuring a number of opinions about what might be next for the industry. This is a guest blog from Titash Neogi. Titash has 10 years of experience in equal mixes of technical product management, consumer-internet user-behaviour, code jockeying, user experience design and startup team building. He also developed BookMachine Connect.

As an avid reader and a lover of books, I often find myself pondering over the future of publishing, books and the very human activity of reading itself. I work with a wide range of people in the publishing industry, ranging from educators to publishers, and at various points we have all discussed where we are headed in terms of content consumption — both as an industry and as a race.

It is now obvious to anyone who would care to pay attention, that the attention span of human beings is declining sharply. People might be consuming more content than ever before, but they are not consuming it as words, sentences and paragraphs, as much as they were perhaps a decade ago.

Given that, will long-form reading, as a means of consuming content, decline? And will that mean the decline, not just of books but, of creating long form content altogether?

If current trends, both empirical and statistical, are to be believed then the answer to those two questions is a resounding (and scary) yes. The reasons behind this are different from those predicted five years ago — the iPad or other tablets, haven’t killed the book in the way it was predicted. The mobile phone has. This article covers the reasoning for this very aptly.

Reading on mobile phones means people can read any time, anywhere. This sounds good prima facie, but is it the death of long form? Long-form reading needs focus, attention and time. Anytime / anywhere reading is antithetical to those three things. Read why, here.

This brings me to my next question: if people aren’t reading enough, then do we need to save long-form? Long-form reading is one the finest and most evolved skills that define us as human beings. That’s a bold statement to make, but I firmly believe this.

However, that might not be true for a lot of people now, and for most people in the future generation. With machines becoming intelligent and crunching / summarising most of the information around us, even making decisions for us, we might, as a race, not need to work hard to acquire this skill called ‘reading’.

Because, let’s face it, no one wants to work hard. That’s why we invented machines in the first place, right? So if our entertainment / information choices boil down to reading a 3-day long book vs watching 5, 40 sec videos on WhatsApp, you know whose going to win with the masses. And note that I am talking of scale: the niche book-lovers will always live, but there won’t be enough to put bread on the table for long-form authors.

So, then the next question is do we need to worry about the future of books? Or will the book evolve to be independent of long-form ?

That is what my next post is going to be about. Stay tuned.

You can follow Titash at @tneogi or visit his website

– Join us for ‘Publishing: the next 5 years’ in London, Oxford, Cambridge UK, or NYC.

Get tickets

Related Articles


  1. Unsurprisingly, I was skim reading this while doing two other things and thinking about ten more. The difference with reading a physical book I think, is I make time to do this and have less distractions. So the broader question is are we brave enough to press the OFF button?

Comments are closed.

Sign up to our Newsletter


* indicates required

BookMachine Ltd. will use the information you provide on this form to be in touch with you and to provide updates and marketing. Please let us know all the ways you would like to hear from us:

You can change your mind at any time by clicking the unsubscribe link in the footer of any email you receive from us, or by contacting us at We will treat your information with respect. For more information about our privacy practices please visit our website. By clicking below, you agree that we may process your information in accordance with these terms.

We use Mailchimp as our marketing platform. By clicking below to subscribe, you acknowledge that your information will be transferred to Mailchimp for processing. Learn more about Mailchimp’s privacy practices.