If you aren’t a member of the e-reader community, you eventually will be. It’s safe to safe that the future of reading will take place on electronic devices, whether that device is a computer, tablet, reader, or smart phone. Print is dying: We see it in failing newspaper sales, in the closure of Borders, in the rise of a generation that will not know a time before the Internet. Philosophizing the pros and cons of this evolution is pointless.
Some people welcome this change with open arms, citing the ability to carry about a library’s worth of literature in a container smaller than most quality backs. Others, like me, mourn the loss of print, the smell of a book, the way a reader’s love shows in its spine. To members of the latter, I would introduce you to hypertext fiction, one of the many iterary forms that could only be achieved through computer technology. To the heralds of the electronic age, I suggest that you have just as much to lose in the decline of print.
However, I also believe we have much to gain from this endangerment. We have creativity to gain.
If print is to survive in any way, shape or form, the true potential of the medium must be unlocked. Members of ENGL 457 have glimpsed some of this potential in the texts of Mark Z. Danielewski–specifically Only Revolutions and House of Leaves. I would argue that both texts are impossible to translate onto electronic mediums, at least without severely altering the reader’s experience. We will also be dealing with Tree of Codes later in the semester, which has entire sections of each page missing, allowing you to see some of the next several pages.
These are books require the medium–and, thereby, will keep print alive and well. Authors need to explore these techniques. I believe that such creativity would not only solidify print’s place in the literary world, but would also stimulate better books! Above all, that is what I want to see: Authors who envision themselves as artists and explore their medium as much as their story.
Yes, print is dwindling away and I don’t foresee a future with the same number of brick and mortar bookstores as we once had. However, print will never disappear–as long as novelists find ways to make their medium a necessary part of the experience.