Reaching Readers in Future Generations

By Elizabeth S. Craig, @elizabethscraigblog 2

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about classic television and my kids.   I’ve been amazed that they know (and can cite) particular gags or episodes from the 1950s comedy, I Love Lucy.  It’s humor that still manages to resonate with kids born in 1997 and 2001.

This is a show that’s always been ahead of its time in many ways.  The primary actors on the show, Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball, formed their own production company, Desilu.  They insisted on filming on quality film and allowed the show to be syndicated (which is how I watched it as a kid…as reruns). The company was later sold to Paramount. But the show is still made available to modern viewers as the rights holders put the entire series on Hulu to stream (which is how my kids watch it).

Another famous redheaded comedienne, Carol Burnett, isn’t known at all to my children.  That’s because whoever is in charge of the rights for that show (from the 1970s…twenty years after Lucy), decided to go in the direction of DVD sales instead of streaming.   That decision appears to have prevented a new generation from becoming acquainted with the series.

Some classic television shows haven’t moved in this direction.  Many of the shows that I watched in reruns as a kid, like Bewitched,  I Dream of Jeannie, My Three Sons, or Petticoat Junction,  aren’t available to stream on Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon.  Consequently, my kids have never heard of these shows.

What does this have to do with our books?  I think it’s the fact that we need to remain open.  We need to continue thinking of new ways to reach out to the next generation and meet them where they are.  Whatever direction books go in, we need to be prepared to move in that direction ourselves.  That may mean experimenting with different opportunities like Wattpad.

It may mean just a concerted effort not to have our books available to only one channel, like KDP Select. Most likely, though, I think it means that we simply need to keep evaluating our options as time goes on…to analyze new opportunities as they open up.  To remember that our books aren’t just meant for one point in time.

It’s also worthwhile, if our goal is to retain an element of timeless appeal, to write our books with that in mind. I make a concerted effort not to date mine with too much technology (we can now, however, always make updates to our text). And there are elements that seem to work better than others in terms of timelessness. I do think that humor especially translates between generations well.

Are you thinking of ways to connect your books with future generations? Have you noticed any classic television or movies that are reaching new audiences by adapting to new technologies/viewing methods?

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12 thoughts on “Reaching Readers in Future Generations

  1. It’s always disappointing to look for a show on NetFlix or Hulu and it’s not available. Just as it’s disappointing to go to the iBookstore only to discover the book’s not on that platform.
    I watched I Dream of Jeannie as a kid. Bet you’ll never guess why…

    1. Alex–It couldn’t have been for Jeannie, could it? Ha! No, it must have been your interest in science fiction and space travel (since the male lead was an astronaut). :)

      It’s frustrating when we can’t find content, for sure. I still remember emails from my readers in 2012 that were angry that I didn’t have print versions of my self-pubbed books.

  2. I absolutely agree with you, Elizabeth. That’s why it pays, I think, to know about new apps and other technology that young people use. And it means being willing to go looking for where those young people are, if you will, rather than expect them to come find us. They won’t. They read in other ways, and from other places.

  3. It’s all about getting our books in front of readers. And like television, the industry has changed. We used to be at the mercy of the physical bookstores. The Internet opened up possibilities and ebooks opened even more. We just have to make sure our books are in the most current form so readers can find them.

  4. That is why I try to make my books available in Kindle, print, and audio books. Commuters, exercisers, and just those who like to listen to books as they do housework are drawn to audio books.

    I am somewhat put off by the Kindle format since every one of my Kindle books have been pirated, flat-lining my Kindle sales. I am re-thinking using Kindle as a medium. Why go to all this work to give profits to another?

  5. Many of the old shows can be found on stations like Me TV which many local stations have as part of their air space. 2.0, 2.1, 2.2, etc. Most can only be received via antenna, not cable or satellite.

    When my DirectTV satellite got fried during an ice storm, I discovered all kinds of programming via an old antenna. Every local station had 2-3 extra channels with everything from a weather channel to a sports channel, a Western channel, and a science fiction/horror channel.

    1. Marilynn–Funny you should mention that–we’re unplugged to a certain degree (hence the Netflix, Hulu, Amazon programming at our house), and we do have an antenna upstairs. I’ve noticed some really alternate programming on it…I’ll have to check it out!

  6. Hi Elizabeth – I used to love “I Love Lucy” .. such fun. The Beeb are turning some of our early shows into reruns or new creations … they will appeal as the storyline is universal to all ages …

    Not having kids .. I don’t really keep up – but don’t have time either .. cheers Hilary

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