Talkies and Kindles and Clouds (Oh my!)

English: A Picture of a eBook Español: Foto de...

English: A Picture of a eBook Español: Foto de eBook Беларуская: Фотаздымак электроннай кнігі Русский: Фотография электронной книги (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’m taking an online film class that focuses on how technological changes influenced the way stories were told via film. It made me think about how technology has or will change the media of books. So far ebooks have changed how we read. I believe over the next couple of years it will also change how we write.

The first few weeks of the class focused on how sound changes film. ‘Silent’ movies were filmed very precisely, with each shot planned and lit separately in many cases. They told story visually (of course) and expressively. The visual methods were refined over time and the meticulous planning of each cut and editing technique allowed each shot to be perfected.

With the advent of sound, this went away, since sound could not be edited the same way it is today and shots had to be more continuous (with fewer cuts and takes). The meticulously planned and shot visual died and sounds, as of yet simple and unsophisticated in their use, took the stage.

As sound advanced, these editing restrictions relaxed, and sound progressed, with sound effects becoming more sophisticated and their use adding depth to the story. Action could happen offscreen and still move the story. Experience improved the use of sound and evened the playing field with the visual.

We face a similar technological change with ebooks. The initial development of ebooks mimicked the books that came before them, with some technological advantages and some disadvantages (particularly in control over formatting). So far, ebooks are still in the infant stage, being used but having to compromise around the disadvantages.

I believe ebooks have yet to truly reach their potential. Integrating text with the web (as Amazon’s X-ray technology is starting to do) is one potential avenue. Other options: Providing soundtracks to books, synchronized with the text as it is presented. Books could be coming more ‘living’ documents, less fixed in a final form, but constantly updated as time makes pieces of the work irrelevant (like software is upgraded).

I am probably totally off on all of these ideas. What I am probably not wrong about, though, is that ebooks will develop over time, and exceed all of our current ideas about what is possible.

What do you expect will come as ebooks develop?

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5 thoughts on “Talkies and Kindles and Clouds (Oh my!)

  1. I am currently having my first novel recorded as an audiobook. Once the file is completed, it will be uploaded to Audible and it will be available for download–but it will also be available on Whispersync for people who have the Kindle edition. Whispersync allows readers to go back and forth between the text and the audio version–you can read one section at home, and then go for a jog and listen to the next section read to you, stop and read the text for a while–your Kindle will keep track of where you are in the book and sync the text and voice.

    That’s pretty amazing. I’ve been trying it out with one of Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files books, and it works out pretty well. It’s a very interesting experience to read a book that way.

  2. Very interesting. I hadn’t thought much about the possible additions to the reading experience that Ebola could make aside from the obvious convenience factor.

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