The Libroid … our future?

Like it or not, the future of books appears to be on the computer screen. Amazon U.S. said this year (2010) it was selling 143 e-books for every 100 hard copies. According to the International Digital Publishing Forum, e-book sales in the U.S. amounted to $88.7 million in the second quarter of 2010. In the same period five years earlier they were barely $3 million.

As if I was not already having difficulty keeping up with technological trends in reading, writing and publishing, I came across something new (well, new to me) called a Libroid. Basically it appears to be a multimedia EBook. According to the website, it includes still and moving images, noises, sound bites, audio recordings, sheet music, graphics, and maps. You can underline, take notes, and mark pages at will. If you are connected to the internet, you can add links and share your notes with others. In addition, there are notes in the left and right columns where you can find out about the text’s finer details, for example, definitions of unfamiliar words or places.

Even more interesting is the creator’s vision that authors will write “round books”, books without end, because authors can add to their books even after publication. This, of course, flies in the face of traditional teachings about developing a book and planning a beginning, middle and an end. Personally, I cannot imagine many tasks more daunting than writing a book that was expected to continue indefinitely. How would we avoid inconsistencies, keep the characters interesting and the plot exciting 105 chapters into the story?

I believe that it currently only runs on Apple’s iPad tablet computer, but has anyone actually used one of these things? I would love to hear a review.

(Originally posted at Novel Spaces on November 12, 2010)

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