Wednesday, July 28, 2010


I'm emerging briefly from my Inkpot sabbatical to direct your attention to an interesting website, The Literary Platform--especially the article "Cathy's Book" that was posted in June. "Transmedia" isn't a term that trips lightly off the tongue, but it's one we'll hear more and more.



  1. Really interesting discussion on the link, Marsha. This concept requires us to think in new ways about how readers interact with story. I guess I like to think that books provide a respite from all the "noise" of phone apps and video links. Does the short attention span of the average kid/teen require this of writers/publishers, or is the "media-machine" (scary music here) driving this trend?

    It seems the world is becoming more like the novel FEED every day.

  2. Another view is in USA Today.
    Steve Bezos,Amazon CEO, states that Amazon is selling more e books for Kindle, than hardbacks,and paperbacks are next.

    What are the implications for novice and young writers? Is the same process there for e books as for the traditional hard copy, that I have 2,000 of in my house? Or, do I go looking for an agent that specializes in getting your ebook published? The business model is significantly different. I don't think that the creative process changes. It is still the story and the language that readers want. Perhaps on a pad in front of them.


  3. I think you're right, Bill. It's still about story. The Collecting Children's Books blog just had a nice little piece about Beverly Cleary ( and the "timelessness" of her books. Apparently, with the new Ramona movie, she was very adamant that no technology that would date the story be present in the film (computers, texting, etc.). The blogger then identified the (admittedly, very few) references that "date" Cleary's books (i.e. Henry's coonskin cap, some 70's and 80's TV ads, but that's about it). The main point to the whole thing was that (even with those references) there is a timelessness to the stories and characters themselves. Something universal that transcends specific eras.

    I mean, really, can you believe Henry Huggins was published sixty years ago this year?

    So, however stories are "packaged" now and in the future--iphone/ipad/droid apps, internet audio/video, BOOK, etc.--my hope is that there's still a good and well told story at the heart of it. AND, I hope the packaging SERVES the storytelling, and it's not just a gimmick. Really, we can look at this new era as very liberating as writers, using these new tools as means to tell our stories in the best possible way.

    And experimentation with form is nothing new. It's just the way we experiment that's changing. Level 26 points to a way the "horror" genre continues to try new things. In 2000, House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski used a very unusual structure, including lots of footnotes (often referring to books that don't even exist--even that isn't that new of a technique,as Coleridge did something similar with The Rime of the Ancyent Mariner). See the wikipedia entry for more info on LEAVES. Even Bram Stoker's Dracula was told in journal entries, letters, etc. And Stoker used that method to manipulate the reader's emotions (mostly fear), and I think it works rather well. When I finish reading Dracula, I don't think about the diaries or the ship logs, or whatever else. I think about the characters, and the chilling tale. That's what's important.

  4. I'll piggyback on Riley's comment...there are fun opportunities to explore as they relate to each book/story and its audience.

    I don't buy into the blogger's conclusion though. She seems to be saying that if publishers don't get more transmedia immediately, then consumers will be so completely engaged with stories-as-advertisement-vehicles that they won't have time/interest for stories coming from another direction. That premise doesn't give consumers enough credit. Fun as it is, the content (in any format) that originates from the desire to sell Cover Girl makeup or Calvin Klein jeans is unlikely to fulfill consumers' literary desires. The marketplace is too fragmented such for a one-size-fits-all approach.

  5. Good comments--thanks, everyone. I appreciate the reminder, Riley, that innovations in storytelling have always been with us.
    I'm fascinated with the push technology is giving publishing. But like many others I'm equally concerned about how it can widen the gap between those who can buy their way into participating and those who don't have the money to keep up with hardware or choose not to consume that way (frequently trading up equipment, paying for downloads vs. sharing books or using a library.) Libraries aren't sitting still, though, and probably they'll find the way to keep reading democratic. Have you all read This Book is Overdue by Marilyn Johnson? It's a great look at innovative librarians. Can't embed a link here, sorry.

  6. Marsha and Cheryl, I agree. And I'll have to check out This Book is Overdue, Marsha. Thanks for the tip!