Recently I’ve been pondering the user interface of a book and the continued importance of the page flip and its role in telling stories (insert collective gasp here). Research led me to examine how much a part of reading the format of the book has become. Even in this “digital age” where eBooks threaten to demolish the publishign industry…the format remains. Think about it, even in eBooks readers mark progress by page numbers & chapters, the aesthetic design of eBook readers are roughly the same dimensions of a traditional paperback novel, and many eBooks offer digitally animated page flips (complete with sound effects). All of this is done to mimic a format has become comfortable to us. But are books and pages really the best format for written storytelling (digital or not)? What about scrolling or sliding?
To self-proclaimed “book purists” even questioning the relevance of the standard book format we have come to know and love is, undoubtedly, unthinkable. I know this because deep down, I’m one of them. I love my books. Besides, the format of books are perfect just the way they are, right! Who in their right mind would even consider looking at alternate forms of publishing and presenting written stories?
As I prepared for the digital release of our first Mech Mice novel (coming in October) it became glaring obvious to me that my first instincts expected the digital book to be as similar to a traditional book as possible. Partly for convenience, but also because I expect to read a book by turning pages. Removing the page flip from my reading experience was uncomfortable at best. Without page flips…I was lost and overwhelmed by the length of a story.
It made me realize pages ARE important. Too much information at once is daunting. Breaking any large task into smaller, achievable, units is good (pages do this).
The ancient peoples of earth once used scrolls, clay and stone to write and record things of interest. To them, the idea of a book must have been both revolutionary and frightening. To be fair, the common man didn’t read scrolls on his own, but they had seen plenty of them and respected those who could read them. So, what will history say of this generation? Will books go the way of the scroll? Will this new frontier of storytelling ever break its bonds to the old medium and find a new way to present written stories?
What are your thoughts on pages? Are there other formats in which to package reading we’ve yet to discover?