Readers Are Fickle, Learn to Embrace Us

by Jane Litte

Publishers  are starting to dip their toes into the social media water and are trying to learn more about the end user of their products, the readers.  I have to tell you right away, publishers, that readers are fickle.

What readers want today will not be want they want even twelve months from now.  One speaker at Tools of Change said that readers are always complicating the situation by buying new devices and wanting new things.  This was said with affection, though, not disdain.

It’s important to remember that readers are fickle and that there is no one set of tools that will work for every reader, all the time.  When Sarah, Angie and I were preparing for our own talk at the Tools of Change, we engaged in a heated discussion over whether the cover blurb should be included at the front of an ebook or in the metadata to be pulled up at the reader’s convenience.  Angie and I are both avid book readers and in some ways we are a lot alike but our own preferences in how we consume the book can be quite different.

Take a look at the iPhone/iTouch as a reader.  Some people believe it is too small.  Others find the convenience of the size perfect for their reading needs.  Some readers like the flat readable aspect of the eink screen and others clamor for a backlight.  Everyone likes the convenience of the one click shopping.

What’s the answer to the reader fickleness? It’s not to denigrate the reader for being fickle. You just have to accept it.  This behavior will not change.  You have to embrace it. It’s reader fickleness that allows you to take advantage of our impulse buying purchases.  It’s reader fickleness that makes us take chances on new authors.  It’s reader fickleness that will open new markets and new opportunities.

Embrace us readers, warts and all, and we will buy your books and be your evangelists.  Denigrate or talk down to us and we will be fierce adversaries.