Friday, August 12, 2011

Call Me Old-Fashioned...

I recently saw my very first D-box movie. I didn’t even know what D-box was until a couple of weeks ago, so for those of you as un-D-box savvy as me, it’s motion-enhanced movie theater chairs that move along with the action on the screen. So when Harry, Ron, and Hermione went zipping along in the mining cars beneath Gringotts, it felt like we were riding the rails along with them. And that plunge that Harry and Voldemort take off the heights of Hogwarts in the last minutes of the movie—well, I felt a bit like I was going to tip out of my theater chair, lol.

D-box is not quite as intense as those movie-type rides at Disneyland or amusement parks—yet—but I don’t think I could sit through two hours of my theater chair moving quite that forcefully, anyway. Besides, it would make eating popcorn a bit hard. Still, the combination of digital 3D and a motion-enhanced chair made for a pretty high-tech movie-going experience. And I have to admit, it was fun. But would I go out of my way to see movies in D-box on a regular basis—and pay the steep price for the tickets? Probably not. Let’s face it—a good movie is a good movie even without all these added bells and whistles. I have many friends, in fact, who refuse to see movies in 3D because they feel it’s distracting and unnecessary and actually takes away from the movie experience.

This makes me think about a conversation I recently had with a manager of a bookstore about the future of books now that they’ve entered the electronic realm. He predicted we would see ebooks becoming more and more high-tech and interactive. For example, instead of a simple illustration of a door on the screen, the reader would be able to actually open the door with a touch, revealing what was on the other side. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’ve got nothing against ebooks. But I think I can do without such frivolities as interactive illustrations. To me, there’s something about this that depersonalizes the experience. Wouldn’t a young reader—or any reader for that matter—be better served imagining a dragon soaring across the sky rather than dragging a graphic of a wing-flapping dragon across their ereader screen?

There’s a possibility, too, that we’ll see ebooks become more gamey, e.g. you’ll have to solve a puzzle or win a game in order to move on to the next chapter, etc. Now this idea really makes my heart ache. I hate the thought of books being reduced to a form of video game. No thank you. It’s not a game—it’s a book!

Personally, I think books should be about words and stories, not interactive graphics and games. It’s not for me—and I definitely think it would detract from the reading experience.

I guess I’m kind of old school about such things. What do you think about books going high-tech?

-Dawn Lairamore

photo credit: final_station via photo pin cc

photo credit: Patrick Hoesly via photopin cc


  1. I'm with you, Dawn! I'm "old-fashioned" when it comes to books too. I don't have anything against eReaders, especially if it gets kids and adults reading more, but I don't want one. I love having rooms filled with cozy ink and paper books!

    I don't like the idea of books becoming like television. That's not going to be helpful at all for engaging a child's imagination.

  2. You know, it's funny--I'm all in favor of ebooks and ereaders and have no sentimental connection to paper books. However, it makes me REALLY sad to think of books being reduced to multimedia experiences. Yes, reduced. Not enhanced. Because for me, it's all about the language and the story, and I don't want all that other crap cluttering up my books, or my children's.

  3. I'm too old school for all that stuff.

  4. Haha! It makes my stomach kind of drop to think about seeing HP in that chair! I can barely manage 3D.

    I'm with you that I think I personally am more old-fashioned, but I can see the allure of an interactive book. I would totally eat that up if it was done well. I feel kind of torn. I like books just the way they are, thankyouvery much, but then I see the idea of a reading experience as AMAZING. As long as I can still have my paper and binding copy to bury my nose in, I'll take a video-gamey type any day.

    Also, as a mom, I see my own kids drawn to this kind of thing. Every time we go to the library my oldest asks if he can play with the Nook (since B&N always has a sample out to lure them in - ha!) Anyway, I can redirect that as much as I want as a parent, but I think the upcoming generation will have a completely different learning experience than we did - books included - and I'm not sure there's much we can do about that but embrace the good in it?

  5. No no no. I don't care how you deliver the words, but just give me words. If I want a puzzle or an 'interactive experience' (I hate that phrase), I'll find it elsewhere.

  6. Well, now - I'm not too hyped about the idea of "enhanced" books either, but please don't say that video games are a "reduced" version of anything . . . games and prose are both valid mediums, and a healthy diet of entertainment includes both. :]

  7. All good points. And yeah, I can see the coolness factor of interactive books drawing kids (and some adults) in. I just hate the thought of "enhanced features" potentially overshadowing the writing itself. And funny, when I was a kid reader, plain ol' books always seemed plenty interactive to me. Then again, I loved to read and had a very active imagination. Enhanced features might make the most positive impact for the reluctant reader set.

  8. Love this post! I can see where there's a place for the interactive, gamey kind of books, but there will still be the old-school stuff out there. The gamey ebooks will cost more, of course, and people won't always want to pay more. Whatever happens, I think it's a blast being part of the evolution.

  9. I love stories. Mostly I read then in hard copy print, or see them on movie screens. I've never been to a D-movie but have enjoyed I-max theaters every so often. Yesterday, at a talk, I heard the term "digital native" used to refer to kids growing up today. In some ways, we'll be taking the lead from the kids. I think traditional books and movies will remain but there will be these other more interactive forms of story out there as well. What do I think about all this...hmmm...I'm curious to see what will be created, and at the same time, will probably still "consume" the bulk of my "story experiences" via books and movies.

    And, I agree with Dawn that "enhanced features" might provide a spark for a reluctant reader.

    Thanks for a thought-provoking post! :-)

  10. I think enhanced features, like Paul said, might draw a reluctant reader in, so in that way, I think it's good. On the con side, enhanced features, might detract from the actual story, making it kind of gimmicky. We have DVD movies for our kids and they all have enhanced features, extras, games, etc, but to date, my kids have shown no interest in them. Interesting! :)

  11. I don't know about the enhanced features either. I'm still on the fence even about picture books on an ereader, where it's more a kid/gadget interaction than a kid/parent/book interaction. On the other hand, my somewhat reluctant reader daughter is fascinated by my Nook and has read a couple of books on it.
    Oh, and I didn't know about the D-box movie experience. As much as I love movies, that would be too distracting for me.

  12. I completely agree. I refuse to watch movies in 3D, because it's always shoehorned in and it's used gratuitously. D-box sounds kinda fun though.

    What I would like to see in eReader format are the choose your own adventure books. Those would benefit from some form of interactivity. Other than that, I prefer my books to be static so I can let my imagination do the work :P

  13. I'm on the other side of the fence on this one. I'm all about making reading more interactive for kids, and think the "play along" sort of thing is exactly what's needed. I see us moving that way in terms of making the e-reading experience much more interactive, and I think that's okay. Reading will not change in the grand scheme of things, and words will still hold their value. But the value of getting kids "into" the reading experience and helping them interact with the text, well, that's nothing but good in my neighborhood. As a teacher, I see this disconnect between reader and text far too often. Engagement is key, and many times the books just don't offer enough engagement to get them to choose reading over video games, or sports, or making funny sounds with their armpits. We can frown and thumb our noses at this new direction, or we can embrace it and get, dare I say, creative with it. It's a challenge. As writers we should rise to the challenge the best we can. For the sake of our MG readers. My opinion, please don't flog me. :)


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