+Peter Nowak wrote an article that starts from a point I will agree with, that dedicated e-readers do not have much of a future, and then extrapolates out to the evolution of the e-books that I don't agree with… which triggers a thought that brings me somewhat back into agreement with him.
Reading is the most immersive of our storytelling experiences. When I am reading a truly well written story, my mind is fully engaged in creating that story's world… and the real world that surrounds me fades into the background.
The very idea of "stop-motion animation, digital paintings, music and gaming elements such as achievements" is the very antithesis of immersive as it drags you out of the story at every turn. Any element that forces you to stop reading and shift your mental state pulls you out of the story and collapses the carefully constructed world that you have been building in your mind.
But there is an element in there that doesn't have to pull you out of the story, the "music" portion of that list caught my eye. I would be interested in at least trying to create an e-book that had a score and very subtle sound effects. If we could cue the audio off what is being read, I think it might be possible to pull the reader deeper into the story rather than rudely yank them out of it with those other distractions. It might require eye tracking or the timing of page turns might be accurate enough to cue subtle sound effects that aren't word by word playback.
I could imagine a horror novel that, as the reader follows the character into the house that is supposed to be abandoned, the surround sound headphones relay the wind through the broken windows, the creak of your own footsteps and then…. then, slowly building right behind, the soft whisper of a breath.
No, I don't mean anybody reading the body of the work and no actors reading the dialogue; audio books have their time and place. What I would like to try is a toned down folly artist creating an atmosphere that supports what is being read without drawing undue attention to itself.
I am less enamoured with a musical score that accompanies what is being read… even though I suspect others would find it more engaging than I. Humans are inherently subject to emotional manipulation through musical cues and I suspect that, if it is done carefully and with respect to the words, it could pull us into the story rather than drop us out of it. I am thinking minimalist rather than orchestral… I suppose a fully scored e-book would allow the reader to choose the style and extent for themselves.
I suspect it is a matter of the senses being used. Our eyes are fully engaged in the reading process and forcing us to stop reading and watch something… I would appreciate that about as much as I would someone calling their friend from the theatre and loudly giving a cogent and well thought out review of the movie we are watching.
Our sense of hearing is not busy with the process of reading so I think that it can be used in a supporting role if it is done in a manner that is gentle enough not to disturb the primary intellectual role of reading, supporting the mental world building taking place.
E-books have a lot more evolution left in them
The other day, when Canadian e-reader maker Kobo announced the release of its latest device – the Aura HD – I couldn’t help but wonder, “Who cares about e-readers anymore?” With the price, size and……
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