In Pursuit of a Better Book: The Evolution of E-Books and the Attention & Trust Economy

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Aug 15, 2023

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In Pursuit of a Better Book: The Evolution of E-Books and the Attention & Trust Economy

The year 2020 has brought about a new theme: the Attention & Trust Economy. People have become increasingly wary and skeptical of having their attention captivated. To gain attention, brands must also establish trust. This has given rise to the concept of the Attention & Trust Economy. In the United States, the Z generation, comprising 27% of the population, is the most diverse generation and is projected to become the largest by 2026. This generation is constantly exposed to content and brands through their smartphones and possesses the power to quickly switch between brands. If a brand breaks its promises or takes actions contradictory to its vision, it loses the trust of the Z generation.

In the past, having money was considered a status symbol, and this was displayed through owning expensive items such as Gucci bags. However, the concept of status has shifted. Access is now the new status symbol. The ability to enter exclusive restaurants, access limited-edition products, or download exclusive apps like Clubhouse, or possess knowledge that the general public is unaware of, such as environmental issues, is what sets individuals apart. It is crucial for brands to adapt quickly to changing trends. For example, on TikTok, trends change weekly, and the Z generation must stay updated on the latest dances, music, and TikTok stars.

To go beyond rapid growth and revenue, brands must provide users with overwhelming value, a sense of community, and exclusivity. The Z generation seeks access and values brands that control the value for those who have access and access rights. The next generation of brands will begin by building an audience. Glossier and Barstool Sports are prime examples of brands that have successfully created a fan base through content, leveraging attention and trust to monetize their offerings.

The Z generation is more inclined to express themselves and showcase their creativity compared to previous generations. With the predicted sale of 100 million AirPods in 2021, the rise of audio-based social media and audio media is a natural progression. Additionally, the Z generation, accustomed to communicating with others through platforms like Discord and relying solely on audio, will seek the same experience in the workplace. Companies like Tencent have invested in creating metaverses by focusing on the necessary platforms and content. Tencent owns 40% of Epic Games, which is closest to creating the infrastructure for metaverses. They also hold a significant stake in Snap, which may possess A/R, Mirrorworld, and digital mapping technologies.

E-books have always felt like they were missing something compared to their physical counterparts. They lacked the "bookiness" that makes someone feel connected to the act of reading a book. However, e-books have disrupted the traditional format by revolutionizing distribution and search capabilities. Initially, tablets were seen as a medium for disposable text, allowing users to jot down ideas and erase them as needed. Monumental ideas could be preserved by baking the clay tablets. Eventually, two clay tablets were fused together to create the first book, the tabula. This format shift, combining the innovations of tabula with parchment, changed everything.

The advent of modern paper made from bark and wood in China and its introduction to Europe through the Middle East further lowered the cost of writing medium. The invention of movable type and the printing press automated the process of producing full pages of text, revolutionizing the distribution of books. While e-books attempted to replicate the experience of physical books, their true disruptive power lay in distribution and search capabilities. Google Books, for instance, aimed to scan and make every written word searchable, unlocking the ideas within books.

The evolution of e-books has been further propelled by artificial intelligence (AI). AI has allowed us to converse with the minds of authors long gone and navigate the essence of their ideas. E-books with AI have become more navigable than physical books, enabling us to chat with books and keep the voices of authors alive. While e-books may not fully replicate the experience of physical books, they are far more valuable in terms of knowledge preservation.

To make the most of the Attention & Trust Economy and the evolution of e-books, here are three actionable pieces of advice:

  • 1. Prioritize building an audience and creating a sense of community around your brand. Leverage content to establish attention and trust, ultimately leading to monetization opportunities.
  • 2. Stay updated on the latest trends and be adaptable. The Z generation's preferences change rapidly, and brands must keep pace to maintain attention and trust.
  • 3. Embrace the power of AI in e-books. Utilize AI to enhance the interactivity, searchability, and analysis of e-books, allowing users to engage with authors and their ideas in unprecedented ways.

In conclusion, the Attention & Trust Economy has become a crucial aspect of gaining attention and establishing trust in today's society. The Z generation values access and exclusivity, and brands must adapt quickly to changing trends. E-books, with their disruption of distribution and search capabilities, have evolved into valuable knowledge stores. The integration of AI in e-books has further revolutionized the way we interact with and preserve ideas. By embracing these changes and taking actionable steps, brands can thrive in the evolving landscape of the Attention & Trust Economy.

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