by Clare Langley-Hawthorne
Last week my husband forwarded me an excellent article in the Wall Street Journal (http://online.wsj.com/article_email/SB123980920727621353-lMyQjAxMDI5MzI5MTgyMDE5Wj.html) on how e-books will change the way we read and write and it sparked a great deal of enthusiastic debate between us. The author of the article, Steven Johnson, basically had his ‘Aha’ moment when he bought, on sheer impulse, a copy of Zadie Smith’s book ‘On Beauty’ on his Kindle. His ideas about how technology can revolutionize not only the book publishing industry but the act of reading itself are, I think, intriguing as well as exciting.
There were three aspects of his article that immediately caught my attention:
The way that technology will transform the essentially solitary, linear act of reading into a community, interactive activity;
The possibilities that technology open up for the e-book-world from hypertextual, searchable books to global book groups;
The revolutionary way e-books will alter the way people buy books from pay per chapter options to the reemergence of ‘forgotten’ books that are now being rediscovered.
Imagine your home library transformed into a virtual, searchable repository of knowledge…
Imagine being able to drill down into the backstory of a book just by clicking on hypertext links embedded in the e-book (as a writer of historical fiction this opens up all manner of possibilities to help inform and deepen the reading experience for my books)…
Imagine being able to highlight a paragraph in the book you’re reading and make comments that will be accessible to both the author as well as the community of readers who are looking at the same e-book…
After reading this article, I was like, wow, the possibilities are endless…and when I look at my four year old boys I can’t help but wonder – what will the world of ideas and books be like for them in the future?
So what do you think about Steven Johnson’s take on the future of e-book technology? What do you imagine that future will be like? What excites you the most about the way technology can revolutionize both the way you read and/or the way you write?