I may have sent this to you all already but...in light of some of our recent
discussions...and in light of the everlasting scrambling to define what
noir, crime, popular...etc...are...herešs and item that will positively
shake up the omelette...
...and this item, curiously enough, involves one of my personal noirš heroes, oz singer & writer Nick Cave...
Montois going for Bunny M.
Will Nick Cave's all-singing e-book change the novel for ever? Or is it just
guardian.co.uk, Sunday 9 August 2009 22.30 BST
There's one big question you need to ask when presented with the
technological enhancement of an art form: "Is it Smell-O-Vision?" Remember
Smell-O-Vision? No? Well, that's my point. This revolution in cinema was
based on the idea that the experience would be more immersive if, say, a
love scene was accompanied by the scent of roses being pumped through the
theatre's air-conditioning; or that when the zombies showed up, the theatre
would be alive with rotting haddock. Everyone hated it, of course. They
emerged from cinemas smelling of fishy roses.
Likewise, there was a time around the middle of the last century when the
world was briefly convinced 3D was the future of cinema. Red and blue
spectacles, it was imagined, would be routinely employed to watch a film.
Flat projection would be a historical curio. In the event, of course, the 3D
craze gave us the nadir of the Jaws franchise and a short-lived comic strip
called Adolescent Radioactive Black-Belt Hamsters.
Which brings us to Enhanced Editions, a new e-book project cooked up by
Peter Collingridge of the digital design company Apt Studio, currently
working in partnership with Canongate. Later this month, Nick Cave's new
novel The Death of Bunny Munro the story of a sex-maniac travelling
salesman taking his last road trip goes to market through the iPhone App
Store, in an enhanced edition that is being launched before the print
The Enhanced Edition does some of the things we're now accustomed to seeing
as standard in electronic texts: you can faff with fonts, change colour,
bookmark it, and so on; and there's some smart social networking stuff
attached. But it also includes enhancements that could have a noticeable
effect on the experience of reading. Instead of paginating the book
conventionally, it's presented as a continuous vertical scroll (one
geek-pleasing trick is that you can adjust the scrolling speed with the
angle of tilt of the phone), and the App includes an audiobook that syncs
with the written text. Pop on the headphones, thumb the screen and Cave's
voice picks up where you left off.
This is interesting. It could be regarded as a gimmick, but if it catches
on, it will subtly change the way we experience fiction. If you half-read,
half-listen to a book, your experience of reading will partly be shaped by
the voice of the audiobook; your memories of the text will be coloured by
how you took it in, passage by passage. The other thing is that it comes
with a soundtrack, composed by Cave and Warren Ellis, one of his Bad Seeds.
Soundtracked novels: now that really will change the experience. Could the
soundtracked novel be to fiction what song is to verse? Or could it be what
Smell-O-Vision was to cinema? Inevitably, some authors like Cave will be
more suitable for the treatment than others. I can't see a huge market for
an iPhone edition of Hotel du Lac, with Anita Brookner improvising scat jazz
accompanied by a steel band.
So, some whiffs of roses and haddock. But the breadth of the package, it
seems to me, is at the very least a weathervane. There's no ignoring the
fact that the e-book will, not too far from now, compete with the paperback;
and the likelihood is that some readers won't just use them to read. It's a
longstanding truism to say that every reader reads a different book. As more
packages like this find their way to market, the book itself, as well as its
readings, will become more plural, more blurred, and less monolithically
booky. Smells good to me.
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : 14 Aug 2009 EDT