Is text dead?
Michael Haitt, on the Apple tablet:
Once consumers get used to this kind of rich media, they will not be content to read text alone
Did film destroy theater? Did television destroy film? Don’t freak, peoples. The “tablet” experience is going to be cool, esp for informative-type works. Who wouldn’t like to click on any word for its precise definition? How about clicking on a proper name for a pop-up picture of the dude or dudette?
The day links replace footnotes is the day the angels sing.
It’s going to kick. It’ll be a blast. Info just seems to go better these days with ‘tainment. And as I said, I’m talking about informative works.
But narrative works? I’m not convinced.
Because readers stop looking at text the minute they’re hooked. Just as listeners forget the storyteller until they hear “the end” and playgoers forget they’re in a theater until the lights come up.
This, I think, is the key that explains why traditional publishers are freaking the hell out over ebooks: Publishers think they sell books, and with the tablet, books just got a friggin’ LOT more expensive to produce.
The creative types saw this coming. When publishing consolidated, when real book publishers were replaced with bean counting conglomerates, all the editors and authors cried, “But you don’t understand what creativity is, what the novel is all about! It’s not about the book; it’s about the story!”
Well, the conglomerates won, didn’t they? They’ve got their bestsellers and their WalMarts and their refusal to let the e out of the bag for four months. And their many happy returns.
Sure, they’re shaking when they see the Apple tablet. OMG, they’re going to have to spend more money on product!
Meanwhile, in another part of the forest, all the authors they’ve let go and editors they’ve fired have gone off to create stories in the land of e. A mysterious place, where the distance between storyteller and audience is measured in clicks. Distribution is a slayed dragon. It’s Smashwords uber alles, baby. Bloggers provide the curation, and the readers decide whom to believe.
The tablet experience will be very cool, but it’s not going to be in competition with novel-length fiction. Text is simplicity and elegance itself, the tool an author uses to encode a story and a reader uses to decode the story. When the story is well-written, the reader falls into the story’s world, doesn’t even notice the text is there.
I’m sure all e-readers will grow increasingly sophisticated and feature-rich. I’m also sure that I won’t want to be bothered by bells and whistles while I’m finding out what Sirantha Jax does next.