Yet another article on the new (digital) face of literature

February 4, 2009

Posted by Nick Sarno

 

An interesting article on the changing landscape of literature was published in Time a few weeks ago. Although it only touches on the impact the industrial revolution had on novels (and books in general), it brings up a few interesting points that other articles seem to forget about. But here’s the kicker:

“If you think about it, shipping physical books back and forth across the country is starting to seem pretty 20th century. Novels are getting restless, shrugging off their expensive papery husks and transmigrating digitally into other forms. Devices like the Sony Reader and Amazon’s Kindle have gained devoted followings. Google has scanned more than 7 million books into its online database; the plan is to scan them all, every single one, within 10 years. Writers podcast their books and post them, chapter by chapter, on blogs. Four of the five best-selling novels in Japan in 2007 belonged to an entirely new literary form called keitai shosetsu: novels written, and read, on cell phones. Compared with the time and cost of replicating a digital file and shipping it around the world–i.e., zero and nothing–printing books on paper feels a little Paleolithic.

And speaking of advances, books are also leaving behind another kind of paper: money. Those cell-phone novels are generally written by amateurs and posted on free community websites, by the hundreds of thousands, with no expectation of payment. For the first time in modern history, novels are becoming detached from dollars. They’re circulating outside the economy that spawned them.”

Italics mine.

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