E-books aren’t enough, says author

Canadians still can’t get the Kindle, Amazon’s lusted after gadget that’s pushing ebooks into the mainstream, but that’s fine with tech-savvy author Kate Pullinger, who has bigger visions for electronic literature than simply making digital copies of paperbacks.

TORONTO — Canadians still can’t get the Kindle, Amazon’s lusted after gadget that’s pushing ebooks into the mainstream, but that’s fine with tech-savvy author Kate Pullinger, who has bigger visions for electronic literature than simply making digital copies of paperbacks.

Pullinger, whose book The Mistress of Nothing is nominated for a Governor General’s Literary Award, says she’s definitely looking forward to getting a digital reader that can carry a library’s load of books in her purse.

But before she makes that big purchase, she hopes ebooks and modern literature evolve beyond the simple written word.

“A problem for me with the e-readers is they basically just replicate the book — I’m perfectly happy with books, thank you very much,” Pullinger said in an interview from her home in London, England.

“Electronic replication of a book is pretty uninteresting for me. The more interesting potential lies in . . . whole new ways of telling a story that use other media. But the new devices aren’t with us yet.”

Canadians currently have few options when it comes to ebook readers. Sony was first on the market with its $299 device, although its release in this country didn’t see the type of excitement generated by Amazon’s much-hyped Kindle, available in the U.S. since late 2007.

Many cellphones and MP3 players can also handle ebooks, although their screens are much smaller and less user-friendly.

Pullinger, a native of Cranbrook, B.C., has been experimenting with digital fiction, like her web-based series of stories “Inanimate Alice,” which combine sound and images to complement the tale of a young girl growing up with her imaginary digital friend, Brad.

She has also been involved in a fiction project that uses cellphones as readers for episodic stories, a concept that is already huge in Japan.

Keitai shosetsu, which is Japanese for cellphone novels, have even gone on to become bestsellers once re-released in traditional book form. But the idea isn’t entirely new, Pullinger notes, and is a throwback to the times when Charles Dickens serialized stories.

“It’s very much based on something . . . from the Victorian times, but now it’s serialized stories that come to you in three- to five-minute snippets, that make good use of audio, whilst keeping the text fairly minimal but readable,” she said. “The technology isn’t quite right for us here yet, but I think that’s around the corner, and that’s something I’m really interested in.”

Eoin Colfer, author of And Another Thing, the latest story in the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series, is working on putting his stories onto the Nintendo DS, a portable gaming device, and hopes the move will turn young gamers into avid readers.

“You can just read the book (on the DS), but if you see a character you can tap him and get his portfolio, and I think that’s great,” Colfer said.

Colfer said he uses an iPhone to read books on the go and doesn’t think the gradual move toward ebooks will harm the publishing world.

“I’m not bemoaning it at all — the death of books — which I don’t think is going to happen,” he said.

Colfer envisions ebooks borrowing ideas from DVDs and including special features to complement a story, like interviews with the author or experts, and multimedia like sketches, images or videos.

Just Posted

Sunny weather improves farmers’ prospects

A harvester kicking up dust. It’s a picture that will bring a… Continue reading

Rural transit pilot project being considered

Penhold, Innisfail and Red Deer County councils to decide whether to go ahead with project

Red Deer fire station up for sale

Home sweet home at Fire Station 4

Most surveyed Innisfail residents give urban chickens the thumbs up

Town of Innisfail will discuss whether to allow backyard chickens on Monday

‘Mom I’m in trouble:’ Canadian, Brit face 10 years in jail for alleged graffiti

GRANDE PRAIRIE, Alta. — The mother of a Canadian who was arrested… Continue reading

Coyote on the prowl near Penhold

This coyote was out on the prowl in a field just west… Continue reading

Sky’s the limit as Calgary opens testing area for drones and new technologies

CALGARY — The sky’s the limit as the city of Calgary opens… Continue reading

Hi Mickey, ‘Bye Mickey: 6 Disney parks on 2 coasts in 1 day

ORLANDO, Fla. — Heather and Clark Ensminger breathed sighs of relief when… Continue reading

Court weighs ‘Apprentice’ hopeful’s suit versus Trump

NEW YORK — President Donald Trump’s lawyers hope to persuade an appeals… Continue reading

StarKist admits fixing tuna prices, faces $100 million fine

SAN FRANCISCO — StarKist Co. agreed to plead guilty to a felony… Continue reading

Annual pace of inflation slows to 2.2 per cent in September: Statistics Canada

OTTAWA — The annual pace of inflation slowed more than expected in… Continue reading

Jury finds Calgary couple guilty in 2013 death of toddler son

CALGARY — A jury has convicted a Calgary couple in the death… Continue reading

Most Read