Thursday, January 26, 2012

Digital Killed the Paperback Star? 3 ways to think about e-Books

1.e is for Enemy.

Did Digital Kill the Paperback Star? Some people think so. Some people think that e-Books will destroy the reading experience. Some people think that paper is sacred. That’s the Paper v Digital debate. e-Book as in “e is for Enemy”. Enemy to that gloriously exclusive Publishing Industry. Who now will decide for us what is worth printing?

2. e is for Electronic... get over it.

Sounds pretty logical. An electronic version of a book. A rose by any other name. Moby Dick made of some dead trees or Moby Dick plastered in electronic ink. Call me - Isprettymuchthesamething. Some think digitising a book creates just that a digital version of a book. This may be a neutral thing or maybe e-Books can save a readership dying on the borders. Digitise it and they will come. From my first Kindle experience a couple years ago or even before that early Project Gutenberg (RIP Michael S Hart) copies scrolling across my screen or perhaps an early pdf, they took the books off the shelves. e-Ink has its own enchantment.

What happens next? When the Kindle Fire is burning throughout the world. Does it change the game? We’ve seen Push Pop Press' Digital Book for Al Gore’s Our Choice on Ted. Then we heard they were bought by Facebook. Something is happening.The texture of the book is changing. The format, the experience. Juliana Baggott Julianna Baggott has introduced an Inner Circle for her Pure Series of Books. The relationship between the author and her audience is evolving too. What are the possibilities forward for interactive books? That brings us to no. 3...

3. e is for Everything.

Thinking outside the Book

What if we look beyond the book. We see them as stories. From the pre-paper days that define conventional notions of a book to the oral tradition and history of storytellers telling their tales to bards on a stage to Spielberg showing a little extra terrestrial or a big dinosaur. Stories are everywhere and they are not only confined to pages. Think of the new e-Book possibilities as stories presented with text, film, music, spoken word, animation whatever it takes to tell a great story. Is this a cop out? Is this a cheat? Should a story stand on its own without props. I’m hearing Simon on the last season of X Factor in the back of my head flogging great performers for letting their dancers and props overshadow them. Will these new media options be distractions or redefinitions?

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