Articles tagged "eBook vs. Print"

Are eBooks a different genre than print ones?

eBooks as their own genre?

Writing in The Guardian, Stuart Kelly has proposed a radical idea: that eBooks should be treated as a different genre than regular print books. Why? The fantastic possibilities of eBooks shouldn’t be bound (haha) to the confines of print and pages. In short, Kelly calls for something that proponents of eBooks have been saying for a while: let’s treat it like a bold new invention, rather than a standard digital copy of a physical book.

Of course, there are always going to be eBooks that closely mimic a regular physical book. eBooks based on older works, or eBooks that would like to closely mimic a physical one because of market reasons (think of Harry Potter — you only want one version running around, really). But the possibilities that eBooks (as a genre) present have yet to be fully explored.

For one, we don’t read eBooks like we read a physical book. Physical books have a monopoly on our attention and also don’t receive information from us. They are static. eBooks are often read as one choice among many of digital applications, with the ability to be amended, personalized, and improved.

An eBook that allows an author to change section, to move up plot points depending on reader input, to change the entire setting based on a reader’s location — that is a wholly different genre than that of regular books, and is obviously where we’re heading (some of the more adventurous of us). Not only that, but eBooks can be constantly updated to provide for further coverage of a current event (or a fictional one). Imagine an eBook that updates the details of a giant, mythical battle, as it was happening. It would basically be a real-time report of total fiction. In other words, incredibly exciting!

I believe that eBooks will become their own genre, much in the way that board games became video games. First, they were limited facsimiles of the original, then they became immersive and even more user-oriented. While some eBooks will remain very much similar to our concept of a regular book now (as they should), enhanced eBooks will become their own genre, replete with all the technological wizardry and components that the medium (tablets, computers, phones, etc.) can afford.

We have barely begun to scratch the surface of what eBooks can do, and a call to think of eBooks as something wholly different from our romantic notion of the hardback will lead us to some very interesting (and cool) places.

As authors, what do you think about eBooks as their own genre?

Stephen King Publishes Joyland in Print-Only

One of the most financially successful authors in history, Stephen King, decided to make his new book, Joyland, available in print onlyJoyland, which is a throwback to the pulp novels of mid-century, will have to be read on a page rather than on a screen.

In a press release, King said, “I loved the paperbacks I grew up with as a kid, and for that reason, we’re going to hold off on e-publishing this one for the time being. Joyland will be coming out in paperback, and folks who want to read it will have to buy the actual book.”

By confirming his decision as an aesthetic one, King has made the decision that reading the book as an actual paperback is key to his vision. Authors often take liberties with presentation of their work, some maximizing experimentation, while others don’t even bother to have chapter breaks.

Reading for Sport?

What is it with turning regular every day activities into contests?  The simple joy of eating a hot dog is now a sanctioned event governed by the International Federation of Competitive Eating (IFOCE). Ironing is now an extreme sport as is growing a beard.  Don’t get me wrong … as both a competitive person and a male (age 18 to 35) I can appreciate a ridiculous challenge, and while I am skeptical about challenging people to read, I feel that if you’re going to do so there needs to be rules.

This morning, I came across the following blog post on Flavorwire.com entitled “10 Novels That We Dare You to Finish.”  In the post, “foolhardy readers” are encouraged to go through the list and comment on which titles, if any, were finished with ease.  In a related blog post, GallyCat editor Jason Boog has included links to “free eBook copies of five massive novels.”  Boog who enjoys reading electronic versions of long novels feels this approach “seems like the perfect way to interact with these unwieldy titles.”

Boog does raise an interesting point in that downloading a free version of something like War and Peace may certainly be more convenient than borrowing it from the local library or finding a cheap copy of the title at a used book store.  But if one is being challenged (or in the case of Flavorwire  … “dared”) to read these titles, then I would argue that downloading the “e” version is cheating.

If you are going to challenge someone to read titles that “also function as doorstops,” then I feel you should only read the print-versions.  It wouldn’t be the same experience otherwise.  The most cumbersome book I own is Carl Jung’s The Red Book (Liber Novus).   The book is a whopping 15 by 12 inches and almost 10 pounds.  When I read it, my wife thinks I look like a Benedictine Monk studying some ancient text.  The content of Jung’s book is fascinating, and I can’t imagine one having the same experience with an eBook-version of it (I don’t even know if an electronic version exists to be honest).  Moreover, what little remains of the book’s original simulacrum would be further diminished, I feel, when converted and displayed in electronic form.

For most readers, the simple joy of reading is motivation enough to tackle titles like War and Peace or The Red Book.  But if you’re going to challenge people who would not normally read “long, long books,” then I would force these folks to stick to print-versions only.  I feel you should have to lug them around with you in all their unwieldy glory.  In doing so, it will make for a richer experience.  At the very least, when the challenge is over, you’ll still have a physical version of the book.  Like a trophy on a bookshelf from some sporting challenge, it will stand as proof of your prior conquest.

What do you think? Agree? Disagree?