Friday, November 25, 2005

Trend Spotting

I was very excited to see the box on my porch today. Every year one of my New Year's Resolutions is "Buy fewer books." Every year I think I do a little better, but not significantly better. So I have ordered three books - one recommended by FastCompany and two recommended by one of our branch managers. Here is what I noticed immediately: books are getting smaller. I'm currently in the middle of a book on leadership orginally written in the 80's, updated in the 90's with this edition published in 2002. You could use it as a doorstop. The three books I received today were more like drink coasters by comparison.

This is something else I've noticed: the chapters are shorter, the text is often broken up by graphics or a photo, and sometimes there are lists or other types of supplemental information. These new books show a lot of attention to DESIGN. Yes, there's that watch word of the 21st century again. Design has hit book publishing in a big way. Who needs a 5 lb tome when you can have a very attractive, conveniently sized, lightweight vessel with its message crafted in more digestible bits?

We are living in a PowerPoint world. As if we didn't know this already. Say it with bullets. I'm surprised Hallmark has not launched it's own line of "Say it with PowerPoint!" You log-in, plug in your bullets, and Hallmark adds the puppies, kittens, flowers and background music and off it goes across the globe. Text-heavy is a bad thing - even I think so. And I am often told I use too many words. So for the second year my annual performance evaluation is encouraging me to work on word reduction in my written communications. This blog is part of my 12 step plan to cut back on words. I call it "Thinking Light."

I have to admit that I like the new look of the new books. I can appreciate the well crafted message in an eye-pleasing format sized to make it less intimidating to actually open and read. But one does wonder where it will stop. With podcasts, audio downloads and streaming video perhaps the written word will just shrink and shrink until we have a language comprised of universal icons - like the no smoking sign or pedestrians crossing. :)

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