killer appearances

In Guardian Books in July Naomi Alderman wrote: "What's most exciting about ebooks is not what they can do at the moment but what they may do in the future. The iLiad can connect to the internet: imagine reading Middlemarch and, at a touch of a button, being able to look at images of the same paintings and sculptures Dorothea looks at in Rome or, for academics, being able to see links to all articles which reference the passage you're reading.

Works written specially for the ebook reader are an even more exciting prospect. A piece of 'ebook native' fiction may allow you to hear the birdsong while reading a romantic outdoor scene, or may automatically subscribe you to a fictional newspaper mentioned in a crime thriller. Some will consider such things gimmicky and a threat to 'proper' reading, but different kinds of text can co-exist. Audiobooks haven't killed the printed word, television hasn't killed radio. What we're seeing isn't the death of the book, but the creation of a new art form.

That form is still in its infancy, but as a novelist I'm excited by the creative opportunities it will bring. Meanwhile, as a reader, I'm simply excited by the possibility of regaining some floorspace. The e-reader will never completely replace paper books, but it's got an awful lot to recommend it."

Naomi will be on the panel for our discussion at the Small Wonder Festival on the 19th September along with Sara Lloyd of Pan Macmillan and author of an influential manifesto on digital publishing to be found on the Digitalist blog, plus Kate Pullinger who expressed her depression at the site of the grey screened, wi-fi-less, retro tome-shaped Sony Reader at the if:bookgroup this week. Be there or be square!

You can book tickets by phoning 01273 709709.


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