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A new report on the publishing industry in Lithuania, the most southerly of the three Baltic states (the others are Estonia and Latvia), comes to a conclusion that is being echoed throughout the developed world. It says that the biggest challenge to reading comes from changed lifestyles and, put simply, the use of mobile phones.
“The main barriers to reading books in Lithuania are the lack of time and the lack of interest,” the report says. “Eurobarometer survey results in 2013 confirm that changes in modern life have more influence on customers, including the faster pace of life, the changing lifestyle and leisure activities, and the use of other media.
“The pace of modern life influences the development of entertainment and the spread of media which require less effort than reading books. Therefore, reading is being replaced by audio-visual information, which is faster and more convenient to use for people who have weaker reading needs and habits.”
Observers say it is interesting to watch the behaviour of people when they have any ‘down’ time. Out come the mobile phones and the scrolling begins. The question to ask is this: are people using mobiles to consume paid-for, publisher-produced content, or are they using mobiles to catch-up with what might be called ‘the novel of their own lives’ – their social media feeds, Facebook and twitter/Instagram updates and the like.
The one area that is showing growth, of course, is audio, the rise of which is clearly linked to audio. But the global publishing industry is increasingly recognising that the device we all have in our hands poses a growing challenge to the book business – in Lithuania and beyond.