Anyone remember America Online or AOL? They’re still around and despite their fading influence, they still manage to attract a huge number of visitors to their main site every year. Because a growing number of visitors were visiting AOL.com through mobile devices, AOL recently redesigned their entire web site to make it mobile-friendly.
What does this mean for authors? It means as more people shift to using mobile computers like smartphones and tablets, they’ll also shift to reading e-books on smartphones and tablets. Since people use a smartphone or tablet for minutes at a time, compared to hours at a time when using a traditional PC, you can see how mobile computer users will have much shorter attention spans. That means if you’re writing an e-book, it’s best to keep your chapters short and your text simple and easy to read.
Look at older classic novels like “Moby Dick” or “The Last of the Mohicans” to see dense, descriptive text that creates a rich atmosphere but at the cost of slogging through paragraph after paragraph of text. Now look at modern novels by John Grisham or Dan Brown, and you’ll see that novels have gotten much shorter, simpler, and faster paced. As people start reading e-books more on smartphones and tablets while riding a bus, waiting for a plane, or sitting in a doctor’s waiting room, you can already see that people will want to read even shorter, faster, and easier to read books optimized for smartphones and tablets.
When writing your e-book, keep your audience in mind. Nobody wants to wade through dense text on a smartphone when so many other distractions are just a tap away. When you focus on an audience that’s easily distracted, that means you’ll need to make your text more inviting to read and faster with simpler text. The easier your writing is to read, the more likely someone will continue reading it.
Your e-book is going to face the real world of audiences who want bite sized chapters, so adjust your writing accordingly. Just compare “The Last of the Mohicans” with today’s novels to see how far today’s novels have come. Now extrapolate into the future how even today’s novels may still be too much for mobile computer users to digest easily in short bursts.
Keep it simple and your e-books will continue attracting an audience as the world shifts more and more to mobile devices. It’s inevitable, so go with the flow and be part of the future instead of clinging to the past. When even a dinosaur like America Online acknowledges that the world is going mobile, that’s a clear sign that you better keep up with mobile computing as well if you want to stay relevant in tomorrow’s world too.