Welcome to my blog!

I'm a divorced mom with a teenage daughter and two pre-teen sons. Writing is my first love. When I'm not writing or working or playing taxi to the kids, I also toy with photography and baking.

So, basically, my camera rarely sees the light of day and my mixer stands in the corner in permanent time-out.

To see some samples of my writing, you can check out my website: www.csrickard.com

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Fantasy Novels and the Next Generation of e-Readers

I just read Nathan's post about Apple's iTablet. His one comment had my mind racing with ideas:
Who will be the first author with an animated cover? Will people crave enhanced e-books or do people want their e-books to remain static and moving-part free? 
Personally, I buy books to read, not to 'play' them. However, with the advent of color graphics and Apple stepping in to the mix, the future of e-readers does provide some really interesting possibilities, particularly in fantasy. Many fantasy fans love their maps. Having a map in a book doesn't make me like it anymore. I read it for the story and a map is nice to glance at once in awhile. Perhaps because I deal with maps for a living I'm a bit jaded by their allure. Regardless, with the use of a sophisticated e-reader, a fantasy author could really expand on their appeal to readers. Many fantasy fans love role-playing and gaming. I could easily envision and interactive world map on some fancy, new e-reader.

Wouldn't a fan love to be able to click on a city in the map and see the type of beings native to that region with links to a glossary of which characters in the book are this species? Perhaps with a pop-up explaining the environment, political system, dominant export, alliances, etc of the city in question.

And instead of a fan constantly flipping back to a map, what if every city and region in the novel had a link that, when selected, would produce a pop up of that part of the map?

The map itself could also get enhanced with rivers flowing and waves crashing against the shore. How about some transparent mist hovering over some mountains or fields of tall grass blowing in the wind?

And what about the characters in the book? What if the end of each chapter had a map that would expand to show each of the characters in that chapter and where they physically are on the map? How far had the made it and how much further do they have to go? If the scene included a battle, would the reader like to see the slain enemy lying behind them on the trail?

I realize this type of 'book' muddies the line between novel and game, but they are still distinct. The book would become interactive, but not open-ended. The reader is limited to following the author's goal and focus. They cannot alter the story in any way. It's simply a matter of animating parts of the book.

This type of novel would also create some new revenue streams and job opportunities. No longer would artists be restricted to cover art. They would need to create images of every species in the book as well as one for each specific character. I don't know enough about graphics and artists to know if the same artists who design covers would also be able to do these new drawings. For something like this, a gaming designer/artist may be better suited. There is also the software needed to animate the graphics and link to the relevant passages, words, chapters within the book.

This, of course, will not appeal to everyone. The nice thing about this is that the e-book could be offered in two versions: standard or animated. The price would need to reflect the difference, but what an opportunity?! As depressing as publishing news has been in recent years, there are so many exciting new changes that I'm really happy I'm writing at this point in publishing history.


Augustin Moga said...

While reading your post I was thinking: what about adding music (without animation) to a book? Sure, most anyone can already play some music while reading a book, but if the author could herself add music to the words then I guess the resulting mix might get perceived in a slightly different light... Music is also not competing in the visual arena, which any animation/graphic will do.

The more I think of it the more I believe that authors of the future will be story creators, and it will be up to them what they throw in the "soup": words, music, graphics, animation, video clips, movies, whatever.

Something along these lines was attempted by some UK publisher a while ago: We Tell Stories. Though the stories themselves are rather short and simple, the experiment does prove that the new technologies are likely to play a part in the way stories will be told in the future.

Christa said...

Thanks for the comment! I'm sorry for the delay in responding, for some reason blogger won't let me comment on my own blog from my work computer. Very, very strange.

I think music would be interesting to the story. I'm not sure how you'd set the timing so that certain pieces or clips play at certain times in the book, but it's got potential!

As an author, I'm not sure I'd want to be responsible for selecting the music though. I can honestly say that the bulk of my creativity rests with writing.

Tor came out with a moving cover for one of Robert Jordan's e-books (forget which one). Also, just read about what some publishers are already toying around with. I think they're going a bit overboard, but I'll be doing another blog post on that later on.

Thanks again for stopping by!