“The universe is made of stories, not atoms.” -Muriel Rukeyser
Writing on his blog, he images new futures for books that are interesting to consider. Let’s look at a small slice of what Kelly sees on the horizon:
Today the paper pages of a book are disappearing. What is left in their place is the conceptual structure of a book — a bunch of text united by a theme into an experience that takes a while to complete.
…What books have always wanted was to be annotated, marked up, underlined, dog-eared, summarized, cross-referenced, hyperlinked, shared, and talked-to. Being digital allows them to do all that and more.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t need any more distractions from the text. Yet, I hesitate to criticize this form that Kelly imagines because a more social book may, in fact, be a better experience of the work.
In a 1993 Paris Review interview with Ken Kesey, the great American novelist said, “The novel is a noble, classic form but it doesnâ€™t have the juice it used to. If Shakespeare were alive today heâ€™d be writing soap opera, daytime TV, or experimenting with video.”
At the time of the interview, digital books were only a rumor, but today they’re fast becoming commonplace. The question is will advances in technology help makes books even more compelling than they already are? Amazon and its competitors are certainly believers.
[UPDATE] According to Los Angeles Times, sales of e-books reached $90 million in February — more than tripling the number from a year earlier. Last summer, online retailer Amazon.com Inc. said sales of e-books for its Kindle reader had far eclipsed hardcover book sales, noting at the time that it had been selling e-books for only a little more over two years and had been selling paper books since 1995.