Saturday, January 21, 2012

Chopsticks and Changes in a Digital World



When my sons were children, one of our favorite books to read was The Musical Life of Gustav the Mole by Michael Twinn.  The book follows Gustav's rich and diverse musical education as he learns not only about various instruments, but the importance of music in our lives.  The best part; It came with a cassette tape (hey, at least it wasn't an eight track) that allowed the reader to hear the sounds of the instruments being played in the book and to sing along with the songs Gustav's mother would sing. 
 
Author Jessica Anthony
Of course, at the time, there were other books that also offered an enhancement to the reading experience.  'Touch and Feel' books like Pat the Bunny come to mind, pop-up books and even scratch and sniff.  I loved these variations for my children because it allowed them to use their other senses while reading a story.
 
So interactive books, in one form or another, is not new to the industry.  Fast forward twenty-some years to the now.  Sure there are still books that come with CD's and other 'accessories' to complement the hard copy.  But we have entered a new age in books---the digital age.  And honestly, how do you scratch and sniff your Kindle?

Easy. You write a book that is also a digital app.  Actually, it isn't 'easy' at all.   In a recent article in the Wall Street Journal, author Jessica Anthony discusses the process involved in creating her newest novel Chopsticks, a collaboration with graphic designer Rodrigo Corral.  It incorporates video clips, IM messages and photo albums to tell the story.  The book is scheduled to be released the first week of February and I can't wait.  I've already pre-ordered the digital version and the hardcover.

 There will always be opponents of any type of 'reading' that doesn't involve picking up an eight hundred word tome and flipping through pages.  But let's admit it, the world is changing, and so is the way we read.  According to Bowker Market Research as mentioned in the article above, "digital titles accounted for 14% of books sold in the second and third quarters of 2011, up from 4% for all of 2010."  Oh, yes, things are changing and they are changing very quickly.

   
Are books like Anthony and Corral's Chopsticks the answer?  Possibly.  They are definitely a turn toward the future and authors and publishers should be paying attention.  Readers are.  I am, too.

So I will be anxiously waiting for my two versions of Chopsticks in the coming weeks: the traditional book version (which isn't, incidentally, traditional at all) and the interactive, enhanced digital version.  Yes, I am a fan of Jessica Anthony's writing, but I also want to 'see' what she has envisioned for the future of digital books.  This is the beginning, and Anthony is one of the pioneers.
 
And in the words of the great philosopher Kevin Cronin: "if you're tired of the same old story, turn some pages....(and) roll with the changes."
 

23 comments:

-RWWGreene said...

Looks like the equivalent of reading a book, watching TV, and surfing the web at the same time. Let's make sure everyone has ADD and hooray for the post-literate society.

Kelly Stone Gamble said...

That's funny you say that. I was watching my son 'study' the other day, while he was watching TV and on facebook at the same time. :)

-RWWGreene said...

Multitasking means doing many things badly at once.

ecsange said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ecsange said...

As far as books and reading is concerned, I feel that an interactive novel is an exciting concept and one that I would welcome, not as in replacing the now "old" method of reading where it's just you and the words, and your imagination does all the rest. Digital books expand possibilities of creativity much in the way that music expanded and moved from its limited access from the streets and cathedrals and concert halls to radio to disks to TV to movies and now, earbuds. These innovations brought music to the common man and changed our world. It even changed how we listen to live music. Music performed live with all of its personal and collective experiences will continue, just, as I feel, will books written simply, with just words, sweet, personal, evocative and intimate words. It's a good thing, an exciting thing, this new interactive reading.

As for disruptive, multi-facing studying, I think you might want to rethink that. - Elaine Sangiolo, Sangiolo Writer's Ink Writer, Book Marketing Manager: Cathedral of Dreams, A Kingdom's Possession, Booktrope Publishing, www.booktrope.com, www.booktropepublishing.com, @inkdipped

Kelly Stone Gamble said...

I agree, Elaine. Interactive reading is very exciting, but yes, there will always be a place for me and my bound typed pages.

Loree Huebner said...

That book sounds really interesting. I still love the holding a book in my hands, and the smell of the pages - call me old fashion.

BTW, love REO Speedwagon!

Kelly Stone Gamble said...

I resisted the whole ebook thing for way too long. Got a Kindle about two months ago, and it is my new best friend. And who doesn't love REO, right? lol

Krystal Wade said...

What Rob said. I still like books with words. :-) In fact, I still don't enjoy reading on an e-reader. I like paper. The smell, the ink, the feel, bending the spines. Just because the world is changing doesn't mean I have to. Although, I'll sell my book in any format possible. LOL.

Anonymous said...

Thinking about buying a Kindle, but then again I love the feel of paper between my fingers. Books are Monumental and a piece of our history. My word how things change. Always love reading your blog. Oh..... and love REO too !

Kelly Stone Gamble said...

I think most of us like the feel of paper between fingers. But there was also a day when I thought I couldn't live without my cassette player. For me, there are books to Kindle and books to actually hold, I'll take a little bit of both.

Dave Simmons said...

I couldn't help noticing the other day that there's an enhanced version of American Gods by Neil Gaiman for the Kindle, with all kinds of video and audio imbedded in the book. Wasn't quite prepared to stump up $14.99 for it when the regular edition was $1.99, but I imagine it could offer a lot of deeper insight into the novel.

Kelly Stone Gamble said...

I think we'll see a lot more this year. According to the article I referenced above, there are several enhanced books in the works, as well as those that are currently out. I haven't taken the dive yet, until now, only because I am a fan of Jess Anthony's. I know I won't be disappointed. :0

Anonymous said...

This sounds amazing. I can't believe that writers like Shakespeare and Dickens wouldn't have been tremendously excited at the possibilities of technology. It's so fast and so absorbing. It's worth remembering, I think, that both of those two fabulous writers earnt their living with their ink - they were not starry eyed about paper and quills and so forth. That was their technology and they wanted to make money with it. I am very interested in technology and what it offers to writers. I can see a future where some of these creative labels merge - perhaps we'll all just be storytellers or auteurs in future with many skills for enhancing stories at our fingertips. I am also totally intimidated. I am just getting to understand a little about telling a story in words and the idea that I have to understand how that could include pictures and films frightens me more than I can really express. Congratulations to Jessica Anthony. I'm going to buy her work and 'read' it for the narrative and also as a learning experience. Thanks for alerting me to this. Cathy x
Please feel free if you think it's worth it to post that up under my name. Sorry to be so high maintenance. Cathy Dryer

Kelly Stone Gamble said...

Beautifully said, Cathy.

Anonymous said...

Pretty neat stuff. And Jessica is my mentor this semester ... that's what I'm talkin' about!

Kelly Stone Gamble said...

Jessica is a pretty amazing young lady. And she likes dolphins. :)

cry4love said...

Jessica Anthony is an amazing writer and a warm, funny human being. Her writing is amazing. Check out The Convalescent.

Unknown said...

This is the wave of the present and future. I have a nook, an iPad and I still buy paper books. Depends on what I want to do with the books. I love having the hardbacks for a library and to add to my small but growing collections of signed books. All of the entertainment in Anthony and company's Chopsticks sounds like a fantastic way to experience the author's work -- and perhaps the only way to keep the attention of those living in a multimedia, attention-limited world. Beth G.

Kelly Stone Gamble said...

I agree. The Convalescent was wonderful, and I expect no less from Chopsticks.

Kelly Stone Gamble said...

Excellent points, Beth G. :)

Amberr Meadows said...

Digital is indeed fantastic. I have an app on my iPad for my little Ivy where I was able to record myself reading a bedtime story to her. It turns the pages on cue, and if I am ever not home at night (which is rare)she can still get a bedtime story from mommy. On the other hand, I do enjoy a good old-fashioned book sometimes. Most of the time I read on iPad, but I can't it with me into the bathtub for a "soak and read" session, and I'd be nervous to lounge by the pool with iPad for fear of water ruin. Great post with a lot to consider. Thanks, Kelly!

Kelly Stone Gamble said...

Yes, I don't think I'm taking my Kindle to the lake anytime soon. LOL. Good idea with the childrens books. Nothing like a bedtime story from mommy.