Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Author as Tamagochi or the Future of Books

I spend a lot of time thinking about the Future of the Book - as an author, bookseller, creative writing tutor, and owner of shelves and shelves of the things.That's it really: 'the thing' that is the book. The weight of it in the hand, the holding of it, the look of it, the smell of it. Could it be something people might one day just 'read' about on their ipads and wonder? (Or shake their heads: all that paper, all that room taken up, why why why ...?)

Then Jane Harris - lovely webmaster of the Randell Cottage website - told me (via Facebook) about this terrific piece on the future of the book written by James Warner on McSweeney's.net. Go here to read it.  ... It is satirical bliss. One of my favourite bits, is Warner's projection of the book in 2040:


2040: Authors Will Become Like Tamagotchi.
Having determined that what readers want is a "sense of connection," publishers will organize adopt-an-author promotions, repackaging writers along the lines of Webkinz and other imaginary pets. "Feeding" your favorite authors by buying their books will make their online avatars grow less pale and grouchy. If they starve to death on your watch you will lose social networking points. Book clubs will cultivate with their favorite writers the warm, fuzzy, organic bond a trainer develops with his or her Pokémon, a process that will culminate in staged fights-to-the-death between your author and the author sponsored by another book club. These fights will occur offline, since there will be one or two bookstores left and something has to happen there. 

3 comments:

Damyanti said...

I read this on my Facebook feed and could not stop laughing. It is also a bit scary though. Some of the stuff sounds entirely possible.

Norma McCallum said...

Here is a quote I copied down from Punch in 1974!!!:
'There is a new aid to rapid- almost magical- learning has made its appearance. Indications are that, if it catches on, all the eletronic gadgets will be just so much junk. The new device will be known as Built-In-Orderliy-Organised-Knowledge. it has no wires, no electronic circuit to break down. Anyone can use it, even children. It fits comfortably in the hand and can be convenienty used sitting in an armchair by the fire. The makers generally call it by its initials BOOK.

How does this revolutionary, unbelievably easy invention work? Basically, BOOK consists of a large number of paper sheets. These may run to hundreds where BOOK covers a lengthy programme of information. Each sheet bears a number in sequence and is held firmly in place by a special locking device called a 'binding'. The user is presented with an information sequence in the form of symbols, which is absorbed optically for automatic registration on the brain. When one sheet has been assimilated, a flick of the finger turns it over and further information is found on the other side. Altogether the Built-In-Orderly -Organised- Knowledge seems to have great advantages with no drawbacks. We predict a great future for it.'

Vanda Symon said...

Love it! Quite like the idea of being a pet author, as long as they remember to feed me...