You have one of my books in your hands. You download it and it appears on your screen. You read the first few pages and you start to close the cover.
“No,” I yell out. “Don’t stop now. Three more pages and you’ll be hooked!” I don’t yell it. It’s recorded, of course, and the message is set to go off if the reader loses interest and begins to close the cover of his e-reader. You don’t care. You close the flap anyway. “Please,” comes a desperate whisper. “One more chance, can’t you give me one more chance?”
You set the e-reader on the table. “There’s a great sex scene on page 36,” comes my muffled voice.
Interactive possibilities are endless. We already have definitions of difficult words. In some books I could use “obstreperous” and not worry about it. Touch the word and the definition will pop up. In the same way I can throw in some Latin or French and make you believe that I have something extremely high-minded to say and you can have it translated for you with a simple touch. This technology is already being used in university class textbooks. And I’m sure it’s being integrated into books for entertainment. Games plus story. This is all happening now.
However, there is always room for innovation. For example, I like to think that there is humor in my mystery fiction. So, when one of my characters says something funny, why not a laugh track? And perhaps there might be times, say after a particularly spectacular rescue, some discreet applause might be appropriate. How is that done? The computer will track your eyeballs to see where you are on the page and react accordingly. We could enhance the words you are reading in various ways. Maybe a sudden gunshot in the story could prompt a sudden visual of a gun, firing right at you. Sound effects? Why not? We want you to jump out of your skin. We could make the sounds optional in the event you are reading on the plane.
A writer could also refer to an event in the main character’s past, and with a little poke of the reader’s finger, that section of the author’s previous book would appear to explain that his girlfriend dumped him in a brutal fashion and that’s the reason he let her walk off a cliff one rainy night. In fact the author could take you on all sorts of side trips. In some books maps may appear to let you know where Kiribati is if you don’t know.
But the reader could be pretty effective too. Perhaps you could have some options. For example, you could click on “Remove all adverbs,” or “skip any references to the weather.” Maybe “eliminate all dream sequences,” or “parenthetical remarks.” Another might be “no pets.” Or “more pets.” What if you’re bored with the setting. Change Manhattan to Kokomo, Indiana. Feel more at home.
Eliminate your peeves from the book BEFORE you read it. For example, if you are a dedicated vegan, the character who ordered a steak would get a big, grilled Portobello mushroom instead. No smoking? Not a problem. Could be a smoke-free book. How about a Christian edition of the next book you buy. The Story of O without the steam. The story would be a little shorter, of course. Maybe it’s more O’ My God! than “O.”
The writer and reader can become co-creators. Is this exciting or what?
CAPTION: The national flag of Kiribati. What’s a posting without a little art?