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From campfires to Kindle Fires: How has reading changed over time?

Lady sitting with an e-reader

Reading has changed over time, there's no doubt about it.

In the past few years, I've found that my reading habits and preferences have evolved to suit my lifestyle. I've been transitioning from taking out books from the library and purchasing paperbacks to downloading books through the Kindle. I'm even currently considering listening to audiobooks as I find myself using my Kindle Fire to read to me as I do my daily chores or workouts.

But it's not just how I take in a book that's different. My purchase habits and the way I decide which book to read has changed, too.

Instead of browsing titles at the library or a bookstore and making a decision based on the blurb or first few pages of a book, I now tend to read books that are often recommended by Bookstagrammers or via bookish Facebook groups.

In fact, I don't remember the last time I purchased a book based on the blurb, and if I'm being honest, I don't recall reading a blurb in a while. I hadn't read the blurbs of some of my favourite recent books, like Verity, What Lies Between Us, The Silent Patient, and The Housemaid...

Those reads were based on social media recommendations alone and when I speak to others about this too, I know it's not just me who does this.

And so it makes me wonder what this could mean for blurbs in the future - is it possible that they become a thing of the past? And what else will change as we go on?

Before I delve into tomorrow, let's talk about yesterday (not literally). What was it like before and how did we get to where we are today? 

Enter the campfire. Yes, that's how far back I'm going.

Of course, I don't actually know if it was initially around a campfire, but let's say it is for the sake of this article. Way back then (a long time ago) when humans were all about telling stories out loud. 

We'd sit by the campfire and tell tales of the past, or carve stories over stone walls until we could jot down our tales in writing on a page.

Fast forward to Gutenberg and his printing press – which was a major game-changer and the beginning of the books. Books became the rockstars of knowledge that spread the love far and wide.

Roll into the 19th century, and public libraries were introduced, making reading accessible to almost everyone. 

And hello paperback revolution! Suddenly, books were cheaper, lighter, and readers could take them anywhere!

Today, in this digital world, we can read books on our e-readers, through Kindles, and smartphones, enabling our entire library to fit snug in our pocket. And evolving further are Audiobooks and podcasts offering a hands-free way to listen to stories on the go while opening them up to a whole new audience.

And as for the whole thing about blurbs, well, there's been a huge step up in social media where the likes of BookTok, Bookstagram and Goodreads, an entire platform for book lovers become the place where bookworms unite.

Recommendations are everywhere we look through virtual book clubs, global bookish chats and through daily social scrolling.

And as technology evolves, algorithms become your personal book matchmakers, serving up stories you'll love without you even asking.

So what about tomorrow? Imagine books like Verity, What Lies Between Us, or The Housemaid... imagine living in a world where reading is taken to the next level, where you're sitting on the sofa, inside the book, seeing it all unfold from within your home.

Imagine a world where we can truly experience being inside a book. We're probably a long way off from that, but it's possible that one day, virtual reality and artificial intelligence will join forces with authors to provide readers with the most immersive reading experience ever! Talk about being sucked into a book!

From campfires to Kindle Fires, our book-related decisions have come a long way and I don't think it'll be stopping here.

With new tech and trends, who knows what's next? One thing's for sure – the reading game is always evolving, and I'm loving every chapter.


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