Interactive fiction is the future, but not of books

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Keith Stuart from the Guardian writes about the possibility that e-books will change the medium of books beyond just the convenience of purchasing and carrying dozens of books on one slim device. He points to a video by a digital consultancy (whatever that is) that imagines new book-reading applications that could incorporate video and other interactive features that would allow readers to solve puzzles, unlock alternate narratives, and share with other readers (think Choose Your Own Adventure for the iPad).

This all sounds fun, but at some point applications like this become something other than "books." There are many terrible portmanteaus like "vook" and "blook" floating around to describe these new books + digital whizbangs, but they're not really books; they're videogames or movies with lots of text. Whatever they're called, these things won't replace traditional books, they'll just be another category of media. Call me old fashioned, but there will always be a demand for long-form, narrative text (digital or print) unsullied by videos and puzzles and demands to share every second word with a social circle.