|The library in Google’s New York office. Photo by me.|
2012 was a year of hurricanes and recovery, tragedies and an election, divisions and compromise, promise and ominousness. The apocalypse didn’t take place, but the future does not feel won. The new millennium is transitioning from a rocky adolescence into a turbulent adulthood and it’s difficult to say where things are going to go. The economic malaise feels more like a labyrinth than a long, deep tunnel.
2012 was the year that social media went from fad to fact of life, so much so that way may stop talking about it as anything other than our new, interconnected reality, in the way that we stopped breathlessly discussing the Web and the Information Superhighway at the end of last decade. (2013 should also be the year we retro-cool the term “The ‘Net” back into parlance).
2012 was the year that the shiny new promise of cheaper tablets led to catapulting sales at the same time that e-book adoption rates appear to have leveled off, which has been greeted with some happy tut-tutting in some paper-loving book circles, but which strikes me as deeply concerning at a time when dedicated e-reader sales may be headed for the cliff.
Books and magazines have enjoyed a near monopoly in portable handheld entertainment for a hundred years (Game Boys and other handhelds notwithstanding), but if they can’t compete with the other diversions on an iPad, books may (start? continue?) a long slide in cultural consciousness and possibly sales. If people aren’t going to read books with what’s already in their hands, when are they going to read?
2013 looks to be the year when even takeoff and landing, that last refuge of print monopoly and “my paperback doesn’t need batteries” joshing, may be electronically-integrated.
And demonstrating the power of the rise of social media and cover-concealing e-readers and tablets, Fifty Shades of Grey catapulted from obscurity to cultural phenomenon. It’s hard to imagine a book that better demonstrates the potency of the forces shaping our new crowd-driven, gatekeeper-less culture.
And for me personally, 2013 is a truly new start. I’m back in Brooklyn, the Jacob Wonderbar trilogy will wrap in just a month with the publication of Jacob Wonderbar and the Interstellar Time Warp, and I’m very excited about new projects and new beginnings.
Meanwhile, thanks to everyone for your generosity with our recent Heifer fundraiser, and especially to the other participants, whose blogs you should definitely check out:
Proving the power of social media, tweets surpassed blog comments for the first time in my fundraiser, and there were nearly 250 between the two. I went ahead and rounded up my $2 pledge:
Happy New Year, have a safe and prosperous 2013, and thank you so much to everyone for reading this blog!