How Games Inspire Breakthrough Thinking—And How Publishing Can Benefit
A visionary author could push the boundaries and re-imagine these books in wholly new ways. A novelist could create whole new realities, a pastiche of video and audio and words and images that could rain down on the user, offering metaphors for artistic expressions. Or they could warp into videogame-like worlds where readers become characters and through the expression of their own free will alter the story to fit. They could come with music soundtracks or be directed or produced by renowned documentarians. They could be collaborations or one-woman projects.
In some ways this harkens back to the promise of the much derided CD-Rom of the 1990s. But the tablet computer was also once snubbed (recall the Apple Newton, an unmitigated disaster for Apple). As with the Newton, there wasn't the processing power and storage available in the 1990s to make these immersive books a viable consumer product. Nowadays, with bountiful Wi-Fi, interconnected social networks and powerful processors, it does.
I want to emphasize I'm not predicting the end of immersive reading. I see a future in which immersive reading coexists with other literary, visual and auditory modes of expression. You get the full book-all the words on the page or screen, but you also get so much more. And ask yourself: Which would you rather have, the hardcover book of today or this rich, multimedia treatment of the same title? Suddenly mere words on a page may feel a bit lifeless. And remember that today's youth are tomorrow's book buyers, and they have been brought up on a steady diet of video games, entertainment on demand, with text, photos, and video all available at the click of a mouse. For them, your future consumers, simple text won't cut it.
Now, I realize that many can't imagine life without a good book or now ebook to curl up with, but these may be the same people who might have thought they'd never forgo the pop and hiss of vinyl records, jettison the typewriter for a laptop, spring for high speed Internet access, or buy a BlackBerry or iPhone. In an earlier age they might have even resisted adopting the Qwerty keyboard (what's wrong with ink and feathered quill anyway?) And sure, there will be some books around. After all, even today there exist vinyl records-just not a lot of them.