Thursday, October 01, 2009

Call Me Old Fashioned

Although I like to think of myself as a technologically hip and cutting edge kind of guy, I admit that when it comes to media I'm a bit of a stick in the mud (as the comments to this post pointed out!). I like my music on CDs, something tangible I can hold in my hand, rather than just as files on a PC or iPod. Similarly, I like my books (although CDs outnumber books in my house) the same way, except for the occasional audiobook (so sue me - I'm in the car a lot).

I bring all this up because today's New York Times has a story about the next big thing in "books" - video:

On Thursday, for instance, Simon & Schuster, the publisher of Ernest Hemingway and Stephen King, is working with a multimedia partner to release four 'vooks,' which intersperse videos throughout electronic text that can be read — and viewed — online or on an iPhone or iPod Touch.

And in early September Anthony E. Zuiker, creator of the television series 'CSI,' released 'Level 26: Dark Origins,' a novel — published on paper, as an e-book and in an audio version — in which readers are invited to log on to a Web site to watch brief videos that flesh out the plot.
In the short attention span age in which we live, publishers see this as a way to hook readers who wouldn't normally take the time to get tied down to a real book.

I don't actually have any objection to using new media as part of story telling, but it's really not a book, is it? I mean, unless you're reading it (or having it read to you), it's something else. In a similar fashion, a performance by people on a stage with dialog, action, etc. is a play. Putting the same thing on film turns it into a completely different piece of art (a fact that many directors adapting plays for TV or film don't grasp).

Maybes it's the wave of the future. Honest to goodness books will wither and die, to be replaced by some sort of multimedia experience, that stimulates all our senses instead of just our imagination. I hope it doesn't go that far, though. There's something about the written word that exercises your brain. As author Walter Mosley puts it:
Reading is one of the few experiences we have outside of relationships in which our cognitive abilities grow
As a species, we don't want to lose that, do we?

Hey, wait a second . . . that gives me an idea for a novel!


Paul said...

As one of the commenters who chuckled at the thought of walking into a CD store, I couldn't agree with you more about vooks.

One of the reasons why I love the Kindle so much is that it only does one thing well: display books. There are no other distractions to take away from the book you are reading.

Reading takes prolonged concentration, which is practically a lost art.

JDB said...

Same thing with writing, I'm finding out. I have to unhook my laptop from my DSL line when I sit down to write, or else I get distracted with "research" and such.

aa said...