Forgotten ones shuffle to centre stage

World famous fantasy author Philip Pullman said it in a way that grabbed my attention immediately, as only a writer can. He was discussing what I will call the ‘e-volution’ taking place in the book industry.

I found him on the internet, talking about the enhanced ebook edition of his work The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ.

A group called Enhanced Editions had adapted his work as an ebook to read on ipads and iphones. Pullman said he was ‘very interested’ in the book evolution taking place.

‘This change we’re undergoing feels as if I’m tied to the front of a runaway train whose driver has had a heart attack’, Pullman said on a clip at http://www.enhanced-editions.com/.

‘There are some things going on in which the author – this poor, maligned, ignored, starved, patronised, … little creature at the heart of it all, without whom none of this mighty enterprise could happen anyway – there are some little corners of this that the author can have some measure of control over,’ Pullman said.

Rosie's work station at the Salamanca Writers Cottage in Tasmania, working on her eco thriller.

His comment may have been slightly tongue-in-cheek. Even so, it’s amazing to hear that a writer of Pullman’s stature might feel somehow sidelined in the publishing game.

But of course he is expressing something lurking deep in the heart of all writers. In the traditional publishing cycle, the author – the person creating the stories – is apt to feel somewhat overlooked.

Pullman’s comment taps into a conviction that for writers, runs close to the bone. It seems there are two main issues – return on investment, and creative control.

Like Pullman, many authors feel the book evolution gives them the opportunity to wrest back some influence.

First, there’s return on investment. On the face of it, digital publishing hasn’t changed things much. Publishers are still offering the creators a slim cut of the overall pie (e.g. in the U.K. no more than 25% of net receipts). Some authors are choosing to prepare and upload their own works, bypassing publishers completely. They can therefore take 100% of whatever their work returns.

This goes both for established and previously unpublished authors. In particular, some emerging writers, disgruntled that the major publishing houses don’t want to take a punt on them, or want something different than they are writing, are doing their own digital publishing.

But many would argue that new authors who upload their own work miss out on an important apprenticeship where publishers definitely add value, via the editing process.

Second, consider creative control. Pullman’s collaboration with Enhanced Editions in 2010 was one of its early projects.

Rosie signing copies of The Wilful Eye with fellow writers and co conspiritors Nan Mc Nab and Isobelle Carmody

The group’s very first ebook adaption was an inspired collaboration with Nick Cave on his novel The Death of Bunny Munro. Cave, a brilliant, versatile, enduring musician, jumped at the chance to compose a soundtrack to accompany his enhanced ebook.

Choosing Cave was pure seduction in marketing terms – he’s a highly creative, charismatic individual. Watching him on screen, hearing his score, listening to him talk, we readers find ourselves wondering how much of Cave’s capacity for being fascinating and subversive is inside his character, Bunny.

Opening an enhanced ebook, seeing the author − Cave or Pullman or perhaps Suzanne Collins − watching them discuss their books, learning about the ideas that inspired them and the things they hoped to achieve, we the audience feel we’re in the privileged position of seeing the artist at work, the puppeteer bringing their creations to life.

We feel we’re getting to know the writer, achieving a rare and exciting glimpse inside their lives and minds.

Then it struck me that perhaps this is what Pullman was getting at, when he spoke of the author taking back some control. In general, authors often seem shy, introverted individuals, who don’t get out much because they are sitting quietly at a desk, getting on with the writing.

But via the medium of an enhanced ebook, the author, the creator, in our minds becomes central to the work. By contributing to the development of the ‘evolved’ product, by discussing the ideas that underpin it, they continue to set the agenda – on how their book is discussed, how it’s promoted and perceived.

It’s as though we hear the forgotten people begin shuffling to centre stage.

But will ebooks, and in particular, enhanced ebooks, survive? Will they bring publishers a decent return on investment? Standard ebooks will probably earn publishers more, as printing costs are avoided. However, digital marketing is a new ballgame that the publishers must learn.

The enhanced ebook is a different proposition. A much discussed project was the YA ebook Penguin commissioned called ‘Chopsticks’, which came out in February 2012. It contains video, photographs, music, and messaging, but almost no conventional text. These embedded features can’t come cheaply, and the pilot project reportedly caused its development team many headaches over issues including copyright.

As the Wall Street Journal said in January 2012: ‘Technology is evolving so quickly that a few months from now, new multimedia books may make current titles look like clunky prototypes’. Sadly, trailblazer Enhanced Editions didn’t survive the evolution − the company reportedly folded in mid 2012.

Rosie at the launch of The Wilful Eye, with publisher and Robin Hobb, who launched the book, and others.

Though publishing is an industry steeped in tradition and enhanced ebooks are still in their infancy, questions are already being raised about whether text with built-in bells and whistles will encourage or discourage deeper engagement in readers.

A preliminary study by the Joan Ganz Cooney Centre (which exists to ‘advance children’s learning in a digital age’) suggests not.

The Cooney Centre reported the results of a small-sample ‘QuickStudy’ on 29 May 2012. It studied 32 parent-and-child reading pairs, with the kids aged between three and six. Half the pairs read a standard print book and ebook, while the others read a print book and enhanced ebook.

The study found that:

  • the children who read the enhanced ebooks “remembered significantly fewer narrative details than children who read the print version of the same story.”
  • during the co-reading exercise, the print books were better for building literacy skills, whereas the ebooks (particularly the enhanced ebooks) were better for getting children’s attention and prompting physical interaction.

But the genie is out of the bottle. Though traditional forces in the publishing industry may have delayed the books evolution, Philip Pullman’s runaway train is gathering momentum.

The author’s ongoing involvement in the development of enhanced ebooks will also help ensure that this medium does not interfere too strongly with that vital ingredient − the reader’s own imagination.

In their future collaborations, writers will fight to protect that magical thing that happens to us when reading. American novelist Robert Olen Butler has called it “the cinema of the mind,” and its preservation is vital to readers as well as writers.

Rosie Borella and I met first at university. She was the hard hitting, dedicated editor of the Uni newspaper and I was a rather vague journalism student who wandered in looking for a job that might give me a taste of real journalism. I didn’t get the job, but years later, I was hired as an Editor to replace Rosie while she went skiing! Our real friendship began from when she tore ligaments in her knee and I stayed on for a while to give her a hand. Rosie worked 10 years to my two in journalism, and there was no one who worked with her who did not admire her. She also worked in PR doing science writing and managing some pretty ambitious projects.

She is passionate, energetic and focused at all of the things the turns her hand to- and there are many of those- journalism, of course – she still writes hard-hitting articles which are published, when she gets involved in something that demands it. She rides like a warrior, became a nurse and oh, she is also a pretty damned fine writer of fiction. Her short stories have been placed in national writing competitions run by the ABC (Bicentennial awards), and the cities of Brisbane, Glen Eira, and Albury. She has a story published in The Wilful Eye (volume one of the Tales from the Tower, Allen & Unwin, edited by Isobelle Carmody and Nan McNab).

And her novel Searching for a Heart will be published by Allen & Unwin in 2013. At present she is finalising an eco-thriller called Whisperland and planning a new book called The Horse Butcher. Her favourite reading is gritty, end-of-the-world speculative fiction. She lives on the Bellarine Peninsula near Geelong, Victoria, with her family, horse, and two dogs.

And I couldn’t wait to see what she would come up with, when I asked her to be one of my guests.

25 Responses

    1. Vauny says:

      I don’t think enhanced e-books will ever replace regular text based books. If anything it’s just a new category the same way 3D is a new category of cinema.

      I find the study using enhanced ebooks surprising, since when I did my education degree I read papers saying that the right type of video games encouraged learning (actual and tangential) as well as building problem solving and logic skills. Though I was studying high school education so maybe it’s different for kids. Although I’d be interested to find out how enhanced ebooks affect kids reading skills more so than their memory of a story.

      • Perhaps you mean 3D TV because 3D movies have been around for more than 50 years. It was brought into being to compete with television and declining cinema patrons. Maybe there is a parallel there…

    2. All read only books are dead.

      Only a feint pulse remains with the fading, mature age reader. Scriptwriter, script editor, visual artist, composer, technician and director are the worker bees of the new publishing house. The question is – who will be the queen bee?

    3. Rosie Borella says:

      Hi and thanks for reading.

      Regarding how enhanced ebooks might affect pre-schoolers’ learning, recall, and reading skills. The Cooney Centre results (released May 2012) are from it calls a QuickStudy – a preliminary method it uses to identify areas for more serious research.

      The Centre’s website explains a QuickStudy this way:
      ‘QuickStudies are informal field explorations of learning around digital media. New forms of digital media are hitting the market and entering homes at a faster rate than academic researchers can study them. By the time studies are completed and findings are published, these media may already be yesterday’s news. As an alternative to the traditional research cycle, the Joan Ganz Cooney Center has developed QuickStudies as a means of quickly exploring new media with the purpose of determining which research questions to pursue later on in more formal investigations with partnering institutions.’

      You can read more about the study itself at the Cooney Centre website: http://www.joanganzcooneycenter.org/Research-Initiatives-41.html

    4. Rosie Borella says:

      Hi Peter
      Hundreds will have said this before me, but I have to say it anyway – the Greylands trailer is fantastic! I am in awe of the way you’ve managed to ratchet its heart-drumming, breath-tearing tension to such a dramatic pitch in under two minutes. I love the combination of words on screen, images like the cat’s eyes, the beckoning mirror and smashing mirror. And your music is brilliant, marching us inexorably towards a moment of truth. So much more creative, dramatic, and inventive than those Hollywood movie trailers, that all end up looking and sounding the same. Congratulations!

    5. Emily Craven says:

      It’s so very funny, the point that actually struck a cord with me was not the place of enhanced books in the market place and as an aid to learning, but the brief comment on how much of a kick readers get from being able to have a view into the life of their favourite authors.

      It is my pet excitement as a reader is meeting an author, seeing them read, hearing them answer my questions, reminised about the books that they love, just being able to connect! Yet there are so few ways in which publishers (and perhaps authors) make this happen. Book launches, signings and conferences, end list. You don’t need a wizz bang enhanced book though to achieve this. YouTube is a fantastic place to connect with readers, conduct competitions (having readers submit a reading of their favourite part of a story), do interviews, book trailers etc. Or there are webinars where authors can speak directly to people all around the world at once and live! Other authors who create special editions of their ebooks with a limited edition short story.

      Please authors, connect with us!!! We so dearly want you to… And if you live in a different country, we REALLY want you to!

    6. Rosie Borella says:

      Hi Emily
      Like you, I’m very interested in the ways readers interact with writers – and that was the kickoff point for today’s post. As you’ve pointed out, there’s no doubt digital media are expanding these opportunities. New platforms gives readers more opportunities to connect with writers in ways that feel intimate as well as immediate.

      As a reader I love the chance to get inside the head of the author, and especially to find out more about their creative catalysts – what gave them the idea to write something, and write it the way they did.

      For a writer, though, the big issue seems to be time. Just finding time to get the writing done is a challenge, whether you’re an emerging author juggling another job and the demands of another life, or a fulltime writer with many different projects on the go. I know some well established authors work extremely hard to answer queries personally, from everybody who contacts them, in all media. I saw a post from Isobelle in this forum on that very subject, a couple of days ago. I know she does this diligently. Other authors employ people to do it for them!

      Another concept I mentioned right at the end of today’s article was, I felt, the starting point for a whole new piece. It was the idea of “the cinema of the mind” – the way the world of the book is created in the imagination of the reader – and how enhancements might affect this vital ingredient in the experience of reading.

      • Rosie, thanks for the interesting article. The Cooney Center report findings were much discussed among the children’s app developer community.
        Re: your comment about author’s struggling to respond to readers. I imagine that is very difficult. However, one strategy I’ve seen a number of authors use on social media is to not necessarily respond to individual comments, but more generally. I think this works well when there are obvious themes in reader’s comments, and perhaps is less daunting for the author?

    7. Chris Neilsen says:

      Really interesting article! This is my first visit to the Greylands launch site and the first article I’ve read, so I might be going over old ground for everyone else, sorry!

      I have actually never read an e-book, but I have been thinking about buying an e-book reader to save my shoulder when I’m carrying around my bag. I’ve never heard about these enhanced e-books before this article, so I’m really interested! I’m a bit torn too, part of me thinks ‘what a gimmick’ or ‘I’ve never listened to an audio book, why would I want a talking ebook’. But at the same time, I also think ‘Well, I love the special features on DVDs’ and what Emily said above, about how inquisitive we constantly are about authors or actors or other famous people. That’s why women’s magazines sell so much!

      But, I think like any new medium, they could really be hit and miss. And unfortunately, great ideas often fall by the wayside when there are too many misses or people don’t hear about them. I know a lot of readers, I swap books with a lot of people and hang out on obernet, so if I haven’t heard about enhanced ebooks how many other readers haven’t? This is really just me rambling off the top of my head, but I wonder if the enhanced ebook medium is somehow either missing something or failing to promote itself. I can’t really make a judgement, not having actually seen one, but your brief introduction does open a lot of questions in my mind and I’m now definitely keen to have a look at some of these. So thanks!

      • Chris when this whole thing began, I had never heard of them either and I was very skeptical. I went to bologna and I saw a lot but nothing that excited me as a writer, but there is a guy who will post in a week or so, who I met when he wrote to ask me to write a letter of support for this project he had- I was so busy and I really didn’t have time, but when hesent his prospectus and outline, I could not just skim it- it was brilliant- of course I wrote the letter and he got the grant. I thought it was inspiring but he has since told me more and shown me a lot and while this debate has been unfolding I am learning more and more, so that I now feel it might be a real adventure as a writer, to produce a story that would not just be translated P book, but a story shaped to this new medium- I can already foresee the process being very interactive and on another front, I am involved in creating a graphic novel with a brilliant artist, and I feel this, too, might end up being translated in some enhanced form- I think the reason you and I had not heard much of it is because it is simply so new- we are at the beginning of a new era of story- it does not vanquish and crush the old, in my opinion, so much as opening up a new medium which will draw out new and different kinds of story telling,

    8. deb says:

      Great article Rosie. I’m tempted to agree that enhanced e-books would be something that I would be tempted to buy and read/watch. When I watch movies on DVD I always watch the special features and often find these just as good as the movie. Particularly the LOTR (extended version) trilogy. Jackson’s ‘making of’ documentaries are amazing and I think I’ve watched those as often as I’ve watched the films. It’s amazing to see the thought and effort that goes into these things.

      As a reader I would be fascinated to see a ‘making of’ a book that I’ve read and loved. Though I imagine this would be time consuming for the author. I enjoy going to launches and signings and always want more. Ask Isobelle, lol.

      Good luck with the new book.

    9. Rosie Borella says:

      Hello and thanks for reading.

      I’m glad you’ve found the post interesting, and that you’re keen to find out more.

      Right here I have to make a confession. When Isobelle asked if I’d write something, I’d never heard of an enhanced ebook either. I was terrified at the idea of writing about something of which I knew nothing. So I went online and did some research. And I guess what I produced was a survey based on my own exploration of some of the issues – just a few of the things that caught my interest.

      I was going to begin my article by saying that I was an ebook virgin.

      That I had never even had a lustful thought about a Kindle or an ipad.

      That I’d never, ever fondled one furtively down an aisle in a computer store.

      But I decided it would be rather tasteless to do that.

      Anyway, now you know. What I found out made me realise what a fledgling, fast-growing industry this is, how little of it I understand, and what exciting possibilities there are.

      I must say, I’ve learnt a great deal by reading all the other posts. And if reading my post made you want to find out more as well, I feel happy that I’ve done my job.

    10. Georgie says:

      Loved your article, Rosie. Technology is upon us, and it’s exciting, but I hope it doesn’t take over completely. In the life of a reader there seems to be a pivotal moment, a realisation, that a book can transport you. My boys went from picture books to comics to graphic novels and now are immersed in full text novels. I’m happy to see them read the back of the cereal carton. At least they’re reading! I think we had a debate many years ago about whether comics were detrimental to literacy, whether they would ‘dumb-down’ our young readers. Surely, anything that engages children to learn the mechanics of reading has to be a positive. Some of my children’s friends are battling with dyslexia, attention-deficit issues and other learning difficulties. They may be the audience to benefit most from this medium. For reluctant readers, especially boys, reading has to be made exciting, exciting enough to compete with computer games and movies. We may not like it, but it is what it is. And besides, with more attention placed on authors, wouldn’t it be fun if they became the next genre of celebrity. We’ve had so many others: actors, models, reality tv contestants, sports people, personal trainers, chefs. How good would it be to have some real thinkers reach celeb status.

    11. Rosie Borella says:

      Great post, Georgie. Because that’s going to be the biggest challenge of all, isn’t it? Getting kids to read and keep reading when there’s so much high tech competition out there, clamouring for kids’ attention. I agree that this is an area where enhanced ebooks will really come into their own.

      Re the author as celebrity,as the Olympics approach I keep being reminded how skewed our society is. We have sportspeople delighting millions on the international stage. We also have writers delighting millions in the international arena. Sportspeople, writers, and those engaged in other creative pursuits are driven to perform, to do the best they possibly can, for themselves, rather than for an audience. All groups sacrifice a great deal to produce a winning performance, or do their best work. But if the Literature Board of the Australia Council (say) received a fraction of the funding that goes to the Australian Institute of Sport, how different our country might be!

      • Maureen says:

        I wonder how much the ebook enhancer will change imagination though? My friend hates it when books are made into movies because the images she has in her head never match the film casting. If the images are supplies for readers, will they see stories in the same way we do now?

        Food for thought.

      • Min Dean says:

        I think with an enhanced book, it’s a little different to a movie. In film conversions, the author vary rarely has much to do with it, so (at least, I think) the reason many fans don’t like it is because the original vision, or mission of the book, has been lost in translation.
        However if the author is involved in the enhanced book’s creation – then it is their original vision, still. I guess it’ll depend on whether an enhanced book is treated like a book, or a film, when it comes to author involvement.

      • Maureen says:

        But should the author dictate reader response? Isn’t the whole point that the responder interprets the work? At least, that’s the entire premise of HSC english now. Or maybe the way we respond will simply change?

        *Just thinking onto my keyboard*

      • Min Dean says:

        I couldn’t say myself, not being an author. But what do the other authors here think?
        Is your book your vision, that you are communicating through to your readers? Or is it a template, which their imagination is supposed to fill out?

    12. Rosie Borella says:

      Hi Minn, Maureen – to me this is the nub of the question. What will happen to that thing I mentioned right at the end of my post, that thing the writer Robert Olen Butler calls “the cinema of the mind”?

      I’m always hating the film for failing to mirror the book, or loving the film for managing to get it right, or at least getting it to echo the way I saw it in my head. But if they do it well, they usually end up introducing plot changes because you can’t possibly jam a complete book into a two and a half hour film.

      I somehow think I’m going to resent a book that shows me the way the main characters look, and that draws in detail the world they inhabit, when I’m used to conjuring these pictures in my head. And they say creativity and imagination are the currency of the future.

      Isn’t that the beauty of books, that you build your own images, and when the world succeeds in firing your imagination, you jump into it? As Georgie said, the book transports you.

      But if I really resented having the characters and settings drawn for me, why do I so look forward to the film of a favourite book? I expect the film to add another dimension to my imaginings. I just don’t know if I’m ready for that to happen at the same time as I’m reading the book.

      But if the author is closely involved the in the development of the ebook enhancements, and the publisher allows a decent budget to bring it to life, in brilliant detail, perhaps I’ll feel differently. I’m explaining all this in a very clumsy way. I don’t know – I think like all of us, I’ll just have to suck it and see.

      • Min Dean says:

        I’m the same with book-to-film (or other) conversions. I’m always petrified and I make sure that during the lead up to the film I don’t re-read, or I’ll *rage* about the things they change or miss. I enjoy it all much more if I read the book straight after I’ve seen the film, though. 

        I don’t like seeing casting choices for books I’m close to – in reference to your mentioning resenting it when you see how the main character looks. Isn’t it funny we don’t hold that much stock in book covers? They generally give us a picture of who we’re reading about but it seems like we just don’t take that as personally. 
        I’ve been able to deal with casting choices in the end by saying, well, that’s one person’s interpretation of the character. It doesn’t have to be mine. And if the public choose to marry casting choice to book character – that’s their prerogative. It doesn’t have to effect my picture. 

        There’s three main book-to-other conversions that I’ve loved as much, if not more, than the book;
        – Howl’s Moving Castle – which was so separate from the book that they, in my head, are two different, beautiful pieces;
        – Stardust (Neil Gaiman) – perhaps because Mr Gaiman was closely involved – I think he wrote the screenplay, too;
        – Wicked (the musical), which I actually love more than the novel. The novel was so dark, and grimly depressing, and left me in a hopeless place when I’d finished it. The musical is sad, beautiful but with that glimmer of hope at the very end that the lesson will be learned.

        Anyway I’m digressing a little. I do believe that if it’s the author’s intent for us to interact with a story in a variety of ways, it is a good thing; they know the back story, and why things being done in a certain way are important. We only get what they want us to have of their worlds, so the more immersive they can make that experience, I think, the better. 

      • Rosie, it’s interesting this idea about books that aren’t illustrated and how they are different if they’re ‘enhanced’ or made into a film.
        Isn’t a film just an interpretation of the book. We as viewers understand it is the Director’s interpretation. If fan art is produced that’s also an interpretation. If an enhanced eVersion is produced… same. If two people discuss a book they’ve read then they will introduce new interpretations to each other.
        I think this all just adds to the experience of enjoying a book. Film can also encourage people to read. For example, the Game of Thrones book series became very popular after the first season of the tv show.
        /2c

    13. Georgie says:

      I absolutely agree with you Liam. I tried shoving The Hunger Games under my son’s nose for almost a year. When the movie came out he finally picked up and powered through the three books in quick succession. That initial movie fired his imagination. He tells me he sees visually the world that he watched in the movie when he’s reading and that’s fine by me. After all, it led him to discover the rest of the books, as well as a whole new genre of book.

    14. Rosie Borella says:

      Hi all

      I agree the film can definitely draw you to the book. I have to confess to never having read the Lord of the Rings trilogy until I saw the first amazing film. The LOTR book/s can be slow in places, using a sometimes repetitive method of storytelling, saluting the the oral tradition. But as I read the books I was seeing in my mind’s eye the film characters and settings that had so captured my imagination at the movies. And after seeing certain films, I want to go off and read some history to see if it really could have happened the way they show it!

      I guess the experience of reading an enhanced ebook is somewhat similar to seeing the movie before you read the book. As you’re reading the book, images will already be there in your mind. But it’s different, as well. It’s more like reading a graphic novel, comic or picture book. Images are there for you already – your mind doesn’t have to create them.

      But I think enhanced ebooks will raise slightly different issues. When I read a print book with no pictures, my imagination is actively engaged in building my own view of the characters and the worlds they inhabit. Watching TV is different. Not much mental activity is needed – many of us sink into a chair and watch TV to ‘tune out.’ We sit and don’t have to think very much. The level of mental activity needed to read, or watch TV, is very different.

      If you’re reading an enhanced ebook, listening to a soundtrack, watching a clip, clicking on a link, I guess you’re multi-tasking. Will it be more like reading a print book or tablet, or more like watching a movie or TV? Or watching TV as you’re doing a bunch of other stuff – sending an email, doing a web search, and so on? Will you be more engaged with the words, or less? Will your own imagination be more engaged in the activity, or less?

      Another immediate issue I can see is the cost of sophisticated enhanced ebook productions. Of course the technology will develop rapidly in tandem with the product. Even so, I can see that a superior product will be very expensive to create.

      If I’m a major author signed with a huge U.S. publishing house, they’re likely to invest a lot in my enhanced ebook. If I’m an emerging author in a relatively small market, like Australia, the publisher will calculate my book can only attract a fraction of the audience. The U.S. publisher will bring out a huge, blockbuster production for its author – whereas the new writer in the tiny market will end up with something cheap and clunky. Unless, I guess, that author is savvy enough and willing to spend the time and money getting their own production off the ground. And until, I guess, the technology becomes cheap enough and easy enough for small indie publishers and individual writers to do their own.

      As we’ve seen with so many technological developments, when the demand is there, the item appears, and rapidly becomes cheaper and more affordable. So of course it will happen in publishing as well. We’re just on the crest of a wave.

      On the other hand, with print or standard ebooks, there is no enormous gap between production values for the book by the blockbuster author, and the emerging writer. There will be problems – but I think creativity and inventiveness will win out. I think we’ll still end up with low-budget, independent gems – just as we do with movies.

    15. Nan McNab says:

      Hi Rosie
      Great article – gave me a lot to think about. First thought with all this talk about different media is that Marshal McLuhan was right when he said ‘the medium is the message’. The medium DOES affect what is being expressed or conveyed, and so, not surprisingly, we are often disappointed when a favourite book is turned into a film. This may be to do with the writer not having enough input, but I suspect it’s more to do with the fact that films can’t convey what books convey as well or in the same way. But they can do other things brilliantly. A film shouldn’t try to do what a book does – it needs to tell the story filmically, if that’s a word.

      I’ve heard lots of arguments about the death of different media, and maybe the Ancient Greeks tut-tutted when The Odyssey and The Illiad were first written down – ‘think of all that will be lost to those poor readers, of dear!’ And something was lost: reading a book is different from listening to someone tell a story, but books have not replaced storytelling, and our love of stories will never die. All you need is one storyteller and one listener for something magical to happen, so anyone announcing that paper books are dead is probably as accurate as the people who say the novel is dead.

      Radio didn’t die when television became popular – each medium gives us different pleasures. I’m so excited about the new forms that will appear to make uses of new technology. Already gamers are enjoying games that are far closer to novels, with well-developed characters, complex and subtle plots and thoughtful ideas. Who’d have thought it?! Bring on the new technologies and let’s see what we can do with them.

    16. Rosie Borella says:

      Great post, Nan!

      And you’ve said it so eloquently. The next couple of years in publishing will be incredibly exciting!