To cognitive neuroscientists, Handscombe’s experience is the subject of great fascination and growing alarm. Humans, they warn, seem to be developing digital brains with new circuits for skimming through the torrent of information online. This alternative way of reading is competing with traditional deep reading circuitry developed over several millennia.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/ser ... story.html
To my credit, I've anticipated that. My latest books start with pictures and the chapters are short and centered on one event. Where necessity means a chapter has to be longer, I'm inserting headings to break it up. In many cases, I'm trying to keep chapters around 2,000 words. I'm also looking for ways to make a book's appearance richer and more varied, including
using bulleted lists
bolding important text.
In that, I'm, of course, imitating the Internet. You can see how that works out in practice by downloading the sample of my latest book here:
https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/my-nig ... d690916827
Alas, that's assuming you have a Mac, and iPhone or iPad.
The Kindle sample is here, although I had no control over that content. (Boo, hiss Amazon)
http://www.amazon.com/My-Nights-Leukemi ... B00EOVP15A
This explains the problem that poses for writers.
Wolf, one of the world’s foremost experts on the study of reading, was startled last year to discover her brain was apparently adapting, too. After a day of scrolling through the Web and hundreds of e-mails, she sat down one evening to read Hermann Hesse’s “The Glass Bead Game.”
“I’m not kidding: I couldn’t do it,” she said. “It was torture getting through the first page. I couldn’t force myself to slow down so that I wasn’t skimming, picking out key words, organizing my eye movements to generate the most information at the highest speed. I was so disgusted with myself.”
To start the discussion, I'll pose some questions:
1. Do you find yourself having a shorter attention span as you read?
2. Do you think your readers are experiencing this change?
3. Are you changing how you write as a result and, if so, how?
Go to it. Adapting to this might mean the difference between a book selling well and only selling so-so.
--Michael W. Perry, My Nights with Leukemia