E-books, Vooks and Wovels

KindleTechnology is an awe-inspiring thing. We’ve all been hearing about the trend toward e-books for some time, especially with Amazon bringing out the Kindle and other manufacturers with their versions of electronic readers. Travelers like them because they can download multiple novels, and it’s less bulky than packing several books, and students can download large textbooks onto their Kindle.

Although e-books by themselves haven’t hit the best-seller lists yet, this seems to be the wave of the future. I’ve believed for some time that if our youngest generation reads at all, it probably will be in some electronic form. After all, now you can read books on your iPhone.

Paul Gillan, author of Secrets of Social Media Marketing, writes that teens today spend 60 percent less time watching TV and spend that time on-line (on MySpace, Twitter, FaceBook and YouTube via computer or cell phone).

Now there is something called the “Wovel,” a serialized novel that is iphonewritten for easy reading on the cell phone. According to Writer Magazine, these are all the rage in Japan (a poll indicates 86 percent of Japanese high-schoolers read cell phone novels) and now U.S. websites like Quillpill and Textnovel have popped up. These sites allow people to post serialized novels in 140-word increments (think Twitter).

And, Publishers Lunch just had a post about the “Vook,” a video book form, which embeds original video clips within a browser-based version of a digital book.

This is all very exciting in the fast-changing publishing world. But, can the feel and smell and permanence of a “real” book ever be replaced?

Moira Allen, editor of Writing-World.com e-zine sums it up very well, in my opinion: “To be permanent, something must be physical.  That, I think, is why we writers (and readers) are still drawn to “real” books — by which I mean a construct of paper and ink that can be held in the hand.  It’s not just that many of us still prefer to curl up on the sofa, or a deck chair, or by the fire, or even in the pool, with a “real” book.  It’s partly the knowledge that even when we put that book down, it lives on.  It will endure.  It can be handed on, perhaps to a friend or relative, perhaps via a used book store, or even a library sale.”

She ends by writing: “Perhaps this is the ultimate answer to the apparently endless debate over ink vs. electrons, and the possibly silly question, “which will win?” Perhaps, in fact, it’s not a competition and never was.  Perhaps, instead, it is a remarkable partnership.  The printed page gives our words endurance; the electronic page gives them wings.  Why would we want one to triumph over the other, when, as authors, we gain so much from having both?”

How many of you read books electronically?

Published in: on October 6, 2009 at 6:08 am  Comments (1)  
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