Sunday 20 April 2014

Reading the Signs


The cornerstone for most of our public engagement activity remains highly reliant on target audiences reading what we write.

So it’s vital that we stay abreast of what’s happening across our markets on the fundamental matters of reading and readership. What are people reading and how are they reading; what’s happening to their consumption, or readership, patterns?

A bigger-picture and more fundamental question is: how are people’s learning patterns responding to changes in media and how information is presented and made relevant? But let’s stick with reading for the moment.

A fascinating development has been the launch of online magazines. Some observers have described them as: “the future of reading.”

Notable is Virgin Digital Publishing‘s recently launched an iPad-only magazine called Project.

As a newbie to it I love how easy it is to cruise around this slick, multi-media offering. I can see why some see it as a watershed – at least in this aspect of reading. Like many other web-based comms I find the ‘smorgasbord effect’ tantalising: leading me off in all sorts of interesting diversions as I progress through an article. Which in itself is an interesting take-out to note.

Time-shifted Reading

The backdrop to this technological development is the increasingly massive choice the reader has. A recent research piece by aptly named Read it Later, described it as a: flood of content (which) disrupts us all day as if we have an maniacal paperboy throwing new editions on our doorstep every 15 seconds.”

The impact of this flood is, according to this research, helping to time-shift our reading. Because of the mobility of our reading content we are adjusting when we read and increasingly choosing to find time slots that suit us better: usually much later in the day.

So maybe no real surprises there but it’s interesting to plot these readership shifts.

And on iPads, the article concludes by noting: “Initially, it appears that the devices users prefer for reading are mobile devices, most notably the iPad. It’s the iPad leading the jailbreak from consuming content in our desk chairs.

“As better mobile experiences become more accessible to more readers, this movement will continue to grow. Readers want to consume content in a comfortable place, on their own time and mobile devices are making it possible for readers to take control once more.”

Are these important signs on Readership Road? Maybe. But in our profession we should, at least, take the time to read them.

- parky