This Onion article about our collective fear of chunky paragraphs cracked me up. It’s true though. Internet writing needs to be concise. (Cue obligatory paragraph break).
And yet, adult books are long blocks of text, uninterrupted by YouTube videos and links. Do we buy them because there are no alternate, bells-and-whistles books available yet? Or do we just prefer a chance to focus sometimes and let the author’s voice guide our imaginations? What do you think?
Personally, I enjoy the focused nature of a book. I always hated reading books with footnotes back in college, because I found it so distracting. It’s an imperfect analogy, but links feel like footnotes sometimes. I’m used to them in short articles on the internet, but I don’t typically read the internet seeking the same pleasure and immersion found in a book.
I think the modern way of reading has already affected books though. Raise your hand if you’re intimidated by long text blocks with few paragraph breaks. My hand is flying high. In a bookstore, I’ll often flip through a book just to check out the author’s style. If I see little dialogue and pages of text without the sweet white space of a paragraph break, I return it to the shelf. Sure, I could force myself to read and comprehend it, but that’s no fun. If a book doesn’t engage me, there are plenty of other ones out there that will.