We've had a lot of talk (on this blog and elsewhere) about whether ebooks will take off or not. I now believe that yes, they will be fine for text books, reference books, and some people may use them to read a novel (though the buzz is clearly that most of us wouldn't want to).
And I believe that if the only way to access books was through an electronic device, it would be the end of novels as we know them.
Why? Because if you are going to use these clever hand-held thingies, which over time are going to get cleverer, then why stick to just words-on-a-page when other media can be integrated and the act of reading can become so excitingly interactive?
I think print books will go on being around for a very long time, but I think that along side them we will see new hybrid forms of ebooks.
This thinking also got further nudged along this morning by reading about thriller writer James Patterson's venture into writing computer games. (He isn't the first author to take this route - other early-adopters of this medium include Tom Clancy and Robert Ludlum.) Lindesay Irvine posts a luddite response on the Guardian blog and wonders:
Should I look forward to the Iris Murdoch quest where players race to collect symbols and Jungian archetypes, and the first Martin Amis first-person shooter? To the Henry James adventure where you attempt to escape from inside 3-D versions of his sentences? The Crime and Punishment actioner where you must get away with murder; to rescue fantasies where you can save Tess or Anna Karenina?(Please do feel free to add your own - I think this is fun!)
But Alasdair Harper reckons:
We need more real writers getting involved in making video games, not fewer. The results could be astounding. It will happen. Elitist suspicion of a new way of storytelling will only last so long, and I doubt the next generation of writers, who grew up on the likes of Beneath A Steel Sky, would have so many prejudices. Heaven only knows what a great writer could do with this new format. I can't wait.I'm an old fashioned paper book loving grouch who will never mend her ways, but I do find the possibilities of these hybrid forms of fiction very exciting indeed.
Now what's an X-box?
Zedeck has some interesting things to say about this post on the Kakiseni blog.