Archive for February, 2011

E Books and the Dawn of the Interactive Novel

Once upon a time…books were available only in paperback format.  There was a certain aura surrounding the ubiquitous paperback as readers delved into the pages of a book and entered a literary world created by the author. Books were read under a reading light, in trains and buses, or while sitting on a comfortable couch with the warmth of a fireplace for company.  Serious readers considered bookshelves that boasted of ancient classics and intelligent reads to be an important part of their home decor.

With the internet revolution, books, like other forms of mass media, underwent a digital transformation and the e book was born. Initially, publishers feared that e books could have a negative impact on the publishing industry the same way digital music affected the music business. Those fears were laid to rest when readers preferred to wind down with their favourite novels at the end of the day rather than read one off the computer screen.

E books have largely been perceived as digital avatars of their paperback cousins. The physical makeup of an e book is similar to its paperback cousin: Both have textual matter arranged in the form of chapters. This is set to change with e-book readers or e-readers such as Kindle rising in popularity with reading enthusiasts.

Readers are now reading more e books than paperbacks. E readers with their massive memories allow users to carry a whole library of books in their pockets. This allows users to read multiple books simultaneously.

A paperback novel contains text, and in special cases graphic art such as maps. An e book can go beyond textual matter and open up a whole new dimension to readers, albeit a more interactive experience. Authors can indulge their readers in a lot more information without it affecting the pace and the plot of the novel.

Reference material and bibliographies at the end of books, or pasted in footnotes, could transform into live information sources in the form of hyperlinks. All that the reader would have to do is click the link as they read the novel to gain a deeper understanding. The link would then direct them to the relevant information, and they would be able to do this instantly than postpone reading the reference.

E books have the potential to create a literary universe in the palm of your hands. The back-story of a side character, which is important to the plot but cannot be accommodated in the novel, can find a voice through images and short videos that would display if the reader clicked the character name.

The rising popularity of the digital book could have a huge impact on the very form of literature itself. The heightened interactivity an e book promises to offer may transform the way books are written and conceived. In the near future you could have e books replete with references to images, videos, or even songs.

With an interactive e book, the possibilities are endless.

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