15 April 2010

Apps vs Books

Techcrunch | Cody Brown | Dear Authors, Your Next Book Should be an App, Not an iBook

The mission of an author isn’t to get you to ‘read all the words’, it’s to communicate in the rawest sense of the word. Whether you’re Jeff Jarvis or Dan Brown, you have an idea or a story and a book is a way to express it to the world.

If you, as an author, see the iPad as a place to ‘publish’ your next book, you are completely missing the point. What do you think would have happened if George Orwell had the iPad? Do you think he would have written for print then copy and pasted his story into the iBookstore? If this didn’t work out well, do you think he would have complained that there aren’t any serious-readers anymore? No. He would have looked at the medium, then blown our minds.
Could Brown have selected a worse example? Orwell, perhaps more than any other 20th century writer I can think of, was obsesses with the power of language and written words. Both film and radio drama were taking off during his career, and with the exception of a few news reports he did for the BBC, he didn't touch either of them. He stuck to books. Maybe Kerouac might have been blowing our minds without writing books if he had an iPad, but Orwell? Come on.

Ok, whatever, Brown's choice of exemplar is sloppy, but does that matter?  Well no, but it's indicative of the sloppy sophistry of the rest of the piece.  I'll only bother with this passage, because there are better things to do:
Once you start thinking of your book as an app you run into all kinds of bizarre questions. Like, do I need to have all of my book accessible at any given time? Why not make it like a game so that in order to get to the next ‘chapter’ you need to pass a test? Does the content of the book even need to be created entirely by me? Can I leave some parts of it open to edit by those who buy it and read it? [...]

I’m 21, I can say with a lot of confidence that the ‘books’ that come to define my generation will be impossible to print. This is great.

Wait, what? No. Those wouldn't be books anymore. They sound like they have great potential and I'd like to see some things like that, but they wouldn't be books. I'm 100% for "non-traditional" mediums and new narrative forms, but "book" does not mean "anything with a story or some information." I love movies and podcasts and blogs and all the other ways that have been pioneered in the last century to present material to audiences, but that doesn't make them books.

1 comment:

  1. I think he was referring to "books" like Alice on the iPad or The Elements.

    And I have to agree with him when it comes to those. As someone had said in another iPad review, they're not just books, they're Harry Potter's books.