Quick, raise your hand if you don't remember Penguin Books.
Remember, you might say, aren't they still around?
Why, yes, they are.
I was thinking of Penguin Books this week as I thought about paperbacks and Kindles and iPads. They have so much in common. As I think about writing, I think about writing a novel. Novel, from what, "new?" I think of it as a book, a finished manuscript.
The whole train of thinking started with music. Let's work backwards - MP3s, satellite radio, CDs, cassette tapes, 8 tracks, reel to reel, AM & FM radio, vinyl 33s, 45s, and whatever that other one was, gramophone, music boxes...the idea was to let us play music whenever, wherever we want it, no? It's always been about making music accessible.
It's the same with stories and novels, books. Trace that whole manuscript - novel - paperback thread and realize, yes, the arising digital venues make sense. We're talking about writing stories, telling tales, and bringing them to the world. As writers, we like the words and the stories we tell, the characters unveiled by arranging the words. They are still words, whether they reside on paper or in electricity.
So here is to progress. Books have had a long life. They're on the way out but it will take a long, long time. I'll hopefully die before the last printed book hits the street. I just like them, their feel and smell, sizes and colors. Who knows what may happen with digital presentations, how they may expand to emulate books in more ways than just captured words. Give it a smell, a tactile feel, add a little more VR page changing, and those who love the paper devices may suffer less withdrawal.
While we're at it, look ahead, to the days when our 'books' are more like video games - or are video games already more like books? Maybe someday authors will create something that's downloaded from their brain and onto a hard drive - remember "Johnny Mnemonic"? - that will be then be known as a wet drive, a slab of flesh that you press against your head to live in the book, a silent witness as the story unfolds. Perhaps our wet books will be virtual reality video novels, with other people playing the books' characters along with you, "Dungeons and Dragons" and other role playing games as movies in your head being played out live as a play, each with their role.
I long ago thought of "CEEPERS" - Computer Enhanced Personalies - avatars you use in your virtual existence. Reality is where you lay your head but that's not what you see. Each person wears a fake skin that projects other images and smells, and you tailor these to be different people. Software helps you manage your strengths and weaknesses, help you become a better business person, a better lover, a better parent, and escape your dark side and the urge to kill, maim and harm others. It's all managed through your BackHand, the future cell phone/personal space manager, thin as a bandage on the back of your hand, a little interface with the minute computers embedded in your body, on your skin, in your clothes, eyes, and ears.
Hadn't thought of CEEPERS in a while. Might come in handy as I write "The Festival of Forgetting".
Something to think about.
Causes Michael Seidel Supports
Kiva, Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, Propublica.org, Doctors Without Borders, GreaterGood.com