Friday, September 24, 2010

Interesting New Idea for Books

I recently did a quick read of my blog posts and noticed that most of my recent posts were more about my life than my writing, which is appropriate given the name. However, there are things you probably don't know such as - I have been turned down by more than one agent and publisher at this point. The feedback I got was pretty good - I know what I have written was intelligent, good, etc. just not something they want to put their name behind at this time as fiction is in "dire straits."

I do understand what they are saying. You walk into any Barnes & Noble and look on their New & Notable round and find books as varied as Action/Adventure, Non-Fiction, Science Fiction, Fantasy, Mystery, Romance. What you don't find are general fiction books. In fact, you don't find many general fiction books in hard cover in a Barnes & Noble (my main access to a retail book store in my town) pretty much at all. So it makes sense that fewer and fewer agents and publishers who are looking to put books on the 2011 or 2012 list would be looking for general fiction at all.

But what are they looking for? Are they looking for Amish Romance? (Something I was asked if I would be willing to write by one agent - um, no. Not my genre.) Are they truly looking for a strong female voice that has nothing to do with romance? (Not sure - got turned down by the agency requesting that as well.) Are they looking for other genres only? Or names who are already brands?

Or are they looking for a book that is more like an adventure? Literally.

Meet Alice by Ideo.

It may be more like the Jetson's flying car, but who knows. A book that is interactive with parallel chapters and specifically designed for your town may be closer than we think. With both an iPad and a Droid version of a tablet coming out sooner rather than later, interactive reading is most probably what is coming sooner rather than later.

I am familiar with Interactive Reading. Everyone who has ever designed an online site or content for one professionally is, but not to this level. This is more like choose your own adventure meets "Alice in Wonderland" with a main story, parallel stories, photos, video and music. As a former content producer for companies like AOL, WB Online and a few others that didn't make it past the bubble, this is actually very much like what I have been discussing with my husband as I grow more and more frustrated with the publishing process. That perhaps what we need to do is create a company that designs a new style of book.

What Ideo has designed is close to what I imagined. However, the question becomes - how do you monotize it? What happens to people who have straight e-books? Or even better - the book luddites (said with affection) who choose to stick to paper books and linear reading? How do they enjoy the same story if it is constantly evolving and changing? Oh - and poor Hollywood. How do they adapt a book that has so many layers and turn it into something for the big screen? Or do they?

Per the Ideo website, you can join the conversation on their Facebook Fan Page. Who knows - perhaps group think can answer some of these questions and more. Regardless, it will be an interesting conversation to watch.


1 comment:

biguglymandoll said...

The Alice idea recalls the footnotes of David Foster Wallace as well; there's an implied interactivity between the reader and the author. Stephen King, in his "On Writing", mentions something similiar - he likens it to telepethy.

"Look," he says, "here's a table covered with a red cloth. On it is a cage the size of a small fish aquarium. In the cage is a white rabbit with a pink nose and pink-rimmed eyes. In its front paws is a carrot-stub upon which is it contendedly munching. On its back, clearly marked in blue ink, is the numeral 8."

"Do we see the same thing?"

I agree with him; the relationship between author and reader, between the transmitter and the receiver, has always seemed interactive. Hypertext can take that interaction to another level, but the receiver is still moving to the beat of the transmitter. As you know very well - while there may be a single true and favorite path through the story for the reader, the content creator has to fill in *all* the paths for *all* the readers; has to ensure the links go to the right places for all the browsers, and - worse - ensure that those links STILL go to the right places 6 months from now.

Ensuring the viability of the storylines through time is likely to be the undoing of many of these ideas. Can you make it rock when it's released? Yes. Can you keep selling it as the content drifts? Less likely. But you're right, it will be fun to watch.