& occasionally about other things, too...

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Fiction in the age of e-books

My son Che is 13. 

He is constantly on one of his several hand-held gaming devices, playing interactive games that transport him to a world of his own and where he doesn’t require human company. 

When his friends come over to play, they do so quietly – strange for children of any age – because they’re busy playing on their own hand-held devices.

Che has an ipod; he’s clear what he wants when he ‘officially’ turns a teenager next year: An iphone so that he can start texting. He uses the laptop with a dexterity that surprises me.

He also reads. 

In the last few months, he’s read three new releases of The 
39 Clues, and the entire series of The Diary of the Wimpy Kid and a few others.  Gordon Korman is Che’s favourite author. (Sorry, I got the name wrong yesterday).

I’m sure, as he grows up, he’ll develop his own interests. I hope that he will follow the family tradition of loving books and literature.

While I'm uncertain whether my wish will be granted, I'm quite sure by the time he’s of an age when he’ll be interested in reading "serious" books, books would have changed.

He’ll read them from a hand-held device that will not only offer him a greater variety and easy access to hard-to-get books, but also make the process of reading far more interactive, immersive and colourful.

The fiction of tomorrow will be definitely produced not merely written and published – meaning there will be many more professionals involved with the production of fiction not merely the writer and the publisher.

In all likelihood there won’t be any bookstores; there will be virtual retail outlets that sell a variety of digital products – music, books, games, and what have you.

All this is not in the distant future. This will happen in the next couple of years.

Actually, it’s a reality right now; it’s just that at present books aren’t part of this digital world, and it’s inevitable that they’ll be co-opted before long.

So, should the purists bemoan the end of an era?

At a congregation of believers in the book held June 19 as part of Luminato – Toronto’s festival of arts + creativity two authors (Katherine Govier, Paul Theroux), one publisher (Sarah MacLachlan, Anansi), one bookseller (Joel Silver, Indigo) and a magazine editor (Scott Stossel , Atlantic) agreed that they were all “torn between hope and nostalgia” about the future of fiction in the age of e-books.

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