Books: 5 years from today

currently playing on my iPod: Next Girl by The Black Keys

During the Frankfurt Book Fair, senior partner and consultant for peacefulfish Juliane Schulze said, “In 5 years, books will more commonly be cross-media products, with embedded sound, moving pictures, internet links and (…) possibly also gaming elements such as alternative reality games.” When I read this quote, several ideas came to my mind (although I’m certain I am not the first to think such things) concerning creating value in both digital and paper books. Such as…perhaps publishers will pay bands to feature songs within digital books? Readers might pay the full hardback price for a digital book that came with an actual soundtrack. I would if I knew the author picked the songs–not just the publisher’s marketing department although that is much more likely.

Within the realm of paper books, I believe that if publishers included an original sketch by the author, say some line art by Maggie Stiefvater, her fans would be much more excited about a paper book rather than just the digital copy. They’d probably want both.

Of course, it’s easy to see that more authors are going to need to sign more books to help sales as well.

All of this is fun to think on, but I do have one problem. I don’t like to see someone else’s visual portrayal of a book’s characters. If the rights holders create a movie based upon the book, that’s fine, but within the lovely, my-mind-only pages of the book, I don’t want to see someone else’s picture of the characters or events. The very simple, brief sketches at the beginning of each Harry Potter chapter did not offend my reading sensibilities. But if she had included much more than those greyscale sketches, I would not have been pleased. Maybe it is just me. I hate to think that someday my only choice would be reading a Diana Gabaldon novel where at the beginning of every chapter I have to see my favorite scenes played out by ridiculous actors. That would ruin reading for me. A movie feels separate. It does not ruin all. But a movie inside the book–that would be like an insult to my imagination.

So I guess it comes to this. There is going to be a great deal of crazy stuff coming out soon. We, as readers and writers and consumers, must decide what will succeed and what will die. Spend carefully, friends, because, unfortunately, it all comes down to money. Publishers gots to eat too.

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