February 16, 2012


A few weeks ago, I was stumbling around on my computer when I came upon blog with a language translator attached. With the click of a mouse, readers could access the same message in Chinese, Japanese, Hindi…you name it. I played around on the site for a few minutes and I don’t know whether or not the translations were accurate, but I can say they certainly looked foreign. 

Delighted with my discovery, I spent considerable time wondering if a translator would be a useful addition to my blog. After all, even at my age, I want to keep current. But no sooner had I paused to consider this new innovation than the afternoon snail mail arrived and with it came new revelations. A story written by Alexandra Alter in the January 20 edition of the “Wall Street Journal,“Blowing Up the Book,” was about new trends in e-books.

(courtesy: clipart.com)

We’ve all seen interactive e-cards where the scenes change with the click of a mouse. Well, e-books are going the same route. Before long Dr. Seuss stories will come with additional bells and whistles, making the experience interactive. But the technique isn’t to be reserved for children’s books, only. E-book biographies will come with incorporated video clips and interviews, too. I admit it sounds fascinating but wonder if readers will welcome the extra expense of these add-ons. After all the jury is still out on 3D movies, isn’t it?   

I can see why a publishing house might be eager to try this experiment. Given the competition from other forms of entertainment, there’s reason to fear for the future of books. As a writer, I’m uncomfortable with this new trend, however. My newly released reprint of “Gothic Spring has a moody, misty atmosphere. When it appears in e-book format, should I add links to the weather channel?  

I have no idea how the public will greet this new experiment.I only know that if it succeeds, it will pose a new set of challenges for story tellers.