I just finished cleaning up from a belated birthday party for my mother. My stepfather who is 80 years young, keeps up with things, and is on his second e-reader. I can’t remember what his complaint was with the first one (my Mom has it now), but he was mentioning that you can purchase books for it now with different endings to the same book.
So if a printed book is from start to finish, a full story
with the usual structure of a novel, you know, progressing in a linear fashion,
then you take that same book and publish for an e-reader, then nothing really
changes, right? The pages even look the
same… at least they do on my e-reader.
Unlike the hypertextual book/narrative where each click on a
hyperlink takes you on another loop – a lexia of story and content – that builds
over time in a unique way.
So this bit of information from my stepfather leads me to
believe that the e-reader is capable of something in between the two. Not
random – like the hypertext “book”, but not fully fixed either like the printed
As far as storytelling goes, however, the chronological, the
orderly progression of exposition, rising action, climax, falling action and
denouement, whether delivered electronically or on a printed page, is the most
suitable device, in full or in part because it mimics the logical/linear
progression of time and life. Whereas
the looped book via hypertext can deliver snippets of information, the lexia,
that combine and build in a unique order that can change the ultimate cumulative
I was interested to note that Inanimate Alice, though a new
media narrative, continued to use the same plot structure as above, simply
because there is no other way to tell a story. On the other hand, the Book after
the Book is not such a story. I would
call it abstract art.