First came Harry Potter, the book that reignited a passion for the written word. Then came Game of Thrones, The Hunger Games, Twilight, and even The Walking Dead – all stemming from great reads that got us cracking open books after at least a decade of awkward and illiterate silence.
As Neil Gaiman best phrased it with:
“There were noises made briefly, a few years ago, about the idea that we were living in a post-literate world, in which the ability to make sense out of written words was somehow redundant, but those days are gone: words are more important than they ever were: we navigate the world with words, and as the world slips onto the web, we need to follow, to communicate and to comprehend what we are reading. People who cannot understand each other cannot exchange ideas, cannot communicate, and translation programs only go so far.”
Reading Between the Lines: The Distinction Between Businessman and Entrepreneur
Digital content also played a role in getting people to be more skilled readers, comfortable with sifting though material at faster intervals. We’re now (at least most of us) a cultured group of readers, which entrepreneurs are working to nicely profit from.
These days everyone has an ebook to sell, but my interest isn’t in how people are raking in a profit from the written word; it’s in how you as an entrepreneur can profit from the spike in reading. As an entrepreneur, it’s your obligation to be a well-read mind. To understand the issues of the day, you must be able to connect ideas and encourage your staff to do the same. To be anything less doesn’t make you an entrepreneur, it just makes you a business laborer (one who may own a business or two but who isn’t in it for anything more than the buck).
An entrepreneur, on the other hand, tends to want to create something. This requires imagination – imagination fueled from reading.
Read it Faster. Absorb it Better.
The increase in content and the proliferation of reading subscription offers tells us that we’re shifting toward an increasingly literate populace that expects its members to be well-read. You don’t have to take a test on everything you read, which means you can take advantage of speed reading in order to (1) get through more, faster, and (2) absorb key points from each read.
There’s a new app that wants you to do just that – read things four times faster. The Wire featured an article about Spritz, an app that “promises readers the ability to read up to 1,000 words per minute – about four times as many words as the average American reads.” Endorsed by Ashton Kutcher and branded as ‘reading reimagined’, Spritz works showing you 250-600 wpm at 50 wpm intervals.
Understanding that reading phonetically is a primitive reading tool and that the eye can scan a word to understand it (which is why very young and gifted readers start reading by recognition of the word and never by phonetics), Spritz uses the same theory in place by giving the eye one red letter amidst a sea of black text. Your brain locks into that red letter, quickly recognizes the word, and moves on…thereby increasing your reading speed. It’s thoroughly easy to be more well-read today – and it costs next to nothing. In fact, you can teach yourself to do the same without a fancy app.
Finding Good Reads
Though Amazon would be a natural choice for a digital lending library, they’re still quite a ways away from that level of progress. Instead they’ve choosen to compete with Netflix and Hulu for viewer’s attention when it comes to movies and shows. That’s one train wreck. Kindle’s lending ‘library’ is another.
Even though Kindle’s lending library has the value of a basement book bargain complete with the last five books on Earth no one will ever read, you do have a few other more choice options than succumbing to Kindle’s dusty digital bookshelf. One of them includes Scribd’s unlimited book borrowing subscription for $8.99/month. The Kindle-friendly, mobile-friendly, cloud platform has more options. However, the selection is still relatively sparse and best for recreational reading to boost creativity and cognitive abilities. In short, it’s a solution for those who want to read because they know it’s something they should be doing (or want to do), and who aren’t particularly inclined to bore themselves with non-fiction.
Reading non-fiction, however, is a perfectly intelligent use of entrepreneurial time.
Nonetheless, Oyster Books might be a far better use of your funds. For less than a dollar more, you get access to 200k titles across a competitively wider range of genres, including business, history, technology, politics, social science, and self-improvement – categories that simply don’t exist for the other two subscription options (and technically, these are all tax write-offs).
If you’re looking for quick curated content because you’re just that busy, my Twitter marketing-business list with over 150 sources for “the business futurist looking to stay relevant in an evolving workplace,” is also a great start to get you exposed to a stream of niche marketing and business content from across a spectrum of sources. There’s also Goodreads.com, which is basically a digital book club tailored to genre preferences.
Marketers, Take Note
If there’s one takeaway lesson here, it’s that marketers need to start writing for readers.
This means ditching boring case studies and e-books in favor of more digestible content. Though it far from means that you need to write less. Quite the contrary – you need to write more, which includes spending more time on research creative topics, curating, and listening in on industry conversation to see what fresh new insight you can produce.
And when you produce it, be playful with your presentation.
Try a grammatically incorrect (but trendy) title with short sentences.
Punctuated sub-headings with key content.
And strategically indented sub points to draw attention.
Drawings are great too.