Thursday, January 17, 2019

What Can Fiction Deliver That Your Smartphone Can’t?

Starting again, after what feels like ages. Wrote this for Elle India, about some contemporary trends in fiction.

In a recent cartoon, Tom Gauld, that irrepressible chronicler of literary life, depicts a customer asking a bookstore clerk: “Can you recommend a big, serious novel that I can carry around and ignore while I’m looking at my smartphone?” That would be funnier if it didn’t make one wince.

What can fiction deliver that your smartphone, with its addictive hits of social media, news and trivia, can’t? To go simply by current statistics, not very much. According to a report in Publishers Weekly, sales of adult fiction fell 16 per cent between 2013 and 2017 in the US. Among the reasons: the decline of physical bookstores (making it harder for readers to discover new titles) and shrinking review space in mainstream media. The same trends, one is sure, apply to other countries too.

The rest is here.