Meet Nelson, Coupland, and Alice — the faces of tomorrow’s book. I recently came across this wonderful concept video and was captivated by the possibilities. Each of the three projects is a compartmentalization of three core functionalities that books can provide:
“Nelson reinforces books as critical thinking tools, providing multiple perspectives, references, and current conversations on a single subject. The layers of information beyond the book itself provide greater context and encourages a deeper dive into the book throughout history and into the future.”
“Coupland addresses the challenge to stay on top of the thinking and writing in our world and professional field that so many of us feel. Readers can easily keep up with “must-reads” by following what colleagues are reading and interact with them through “book clubs” and other social layers (discussions, suggestions, lists, purchases) to help each other share and learn.”
“Alice explores new ways for users to interact and affect written narratives by introducing non-linear and game mechanics to reading. By introducing the reader’s active participation, this concept “blurs the lines between reality and fiction.” Certain interactions allow the reader to transcend traditional media by utilizing geographic location, communication with characters, and user contribution to storyline and plot.”
Watch global design and innovation consultancy IDEO’s vision for the future of the book. What new experiences might be created by linking diverse discussions, what additional value could be created by connected readers to one another, and what innovative ways we might use to tell our favorite stories and build community around books?
Now where does this lead us?
The above video is surely an exciting way of imagining how we might read our books a few years into the future.
But is it all good? Is it the end of immersive reading and the beginning of a multimedia culture in reading? What if authors could put pictures and sound effects and videos in a book to help you along? What if you could hear the tone of Mr.Scrooge as he grumbled over his money or Queequeg’s extraordinary prayers?
The beauty of immersive reading for me was that I could create the world I was reading and populate it with characters that were as larger than life as I wanted. The majesty of the world and the characters resides in my imagination.
This is the prime reason why movies can hardly ever be better than the books from which they are made. Peter Jackson’s Aragorn does not match with the “The King Of Men” I had in my imagination, nor can New Zealand ever hope to hold a candle to Middle Earth.
I have no complaints against this of course. What I have qualms about is that as authors are able to put more ways of communicating what is in their mind to the readers with the advance of technology, the most intimate aspect of immersive reading, the fact that every reader reads a book and imagines a world that is different form each other and different from that of the author.
That to me is the real joy and magic of reading, I am as much a part of the creative process as the author who wrote the book. It is a participative project in which the author suggests and I construct. Movies are the exact opposite, where I am presented with the finished product to be absorbed.
I welcome the fact that e-books and technology increases the convenience and accessibility of books. Now you can carry a thousand books on your mobile and read them anywhere you like. I myself am a notorious e-book reader and have read 800+ page books solely on my mobile.
My only anxiety is due to the fact that sooner or later, every medium starts to influence the message. I am afraid that just as 3D tech is morphing the way movies are made today, the availability of new ways to communicate with the audience will have to be embraced by new authors and those who don’t will get left behind. It seems inevitable to me.
The question I leave you with is this: As with everything else, technology will force us to evolve our reading habits, should we allow books to move in this direction? Or is there a way to merge the convenience that is provided by technology and the mystique that is sought by the imagination?
You can discuss the idea further here or head over to IDEO’s Facebook page.