Twitter’s #LitChat Discusses the Future of Reading, Writing & Publishing


Prior to the advent of the novel, storytelling was largely a social experience delivered through theater and other group settings. The emergence of the novel in the late eighteenth century put stories into the hands of individual readers and created a whole new avenue for vicarious thrills, learning, escape, romance and adventure. Fan fiction, choose your own adventure novels, interactive novels and other digital reading experiences are changing the future of reading, writing and publishing.

How will fiction change with interactive novels? Is digital publishing circling back to story as a social experience? Inspired by the enriching content emerging from Sprint Beyond the Book, and particularly the Jane Friedman essay, “The Blurring Line Between Reader and Writer,” we discussed questions such as these in the October 14, 2013 session of #litchat. #Litchat is a hashtag-led discussion featuring topics of interest to readers and writers held through Twitter each Monday, Wednesday and Friday, from 4-5 p.m. E.T.

The one-hour #litchat session drew more than a dozen active participants from the U.S., Canada and the U.K., including Friedman, to discuss how the digital age is changing the way we experience stories. An archive of the #litchat session was created in Storify.

The following is the transcript from the one-hour #litchat session:

LitChat Welcome to #litchat. We’re excited to participate today HOW WILL PEOPLE READ IN THE FUTURE discussion. Join us for the next hour. #LitChat
LitChat While #litchat is underway between 4-5pmET with moderated convo, please don’t use the hashtag unless contributing to the topic.
LitChat #litchat was founded in 2009 and is moderated by @CarolyBurnsBass. We chat M W F, 4-5pmET.
ChatSalad RT @LitChat: Welcome to #litchat. We’re excited to participate today HOW WILL PEOPLE READ IN THE FUTURE discussion. Join us for the next ho…
LitChat Follow #litchat easily from Simply login/authorize and you’re in the convo.
agnieszkasshoes RT @LitChat: Welcome to #litchat. We’re excited to participate today HOW WILL PEOPLE READ IN THE FUTURE discussion. Join us for the next ho…
LitChat Who’s with us today in #litchat? Please introduce yourself and let the convo begin.
MadelineDyerUK RT @LitChat: #litchat was founded in 2009 and is moderated by @CarolyBurnsBass. We chat M W F, 4-5pmET.
Pendare @GLHancock You’re safe I think! #LitChat
NineTiger Marianne, here. Still screaming about #governmentshutdown while pursuing other topics. #litchat
GLHancock retired publisher/editor/writer of a half century wondering why you think people didn’t read alone before novels were written? #litchat
LitChat Today’s convo was inspired by SPRINT BEYOND THE BOOK PROJECT and @JaneFriedman essay THE BLURRING LINES BETWEEN READER & WRITER. #LitChat
Pendare Patricia here — on Canada’s Thanksgiving day. #LitChat
21stCscribe marc nash here #litchat
LitChat Here is direct link to the SPRINT BEYOND THE BOOK PROJECT, a 72-hour book collaborative now underway: #LitChat
GLHancock @Pendare Happy happy – are you thankful still? #litchat
agnieszkasshoes @LitChat I’m here! I wrote a novel interactively on Facebook back in 2009 so fascinated by the subject #litchat
Pendare @GLHancock Pretty much!  #LitChat
21stCscribe I’ve got an interactive digital novel in the works next year hopefully #litchat
LitChat Here is direct link to @JaneFriedman essay THE BLURRING LINE BETWEEN READER & WRITER: #LitChat
palefacewriter Hi readers and writers. #LitChat
GLHancock @Pendare Good! Good! #litchat
LitChat We’re hoping @JaneFriedman has a moment to stop in to share her knowledge and experience in this fascinating topic. #LitChat
21stCscribe Interactive in the sense the reader plots their own way through it. But not with treasure at the end #litchat
novemberhill Hi!  Just read the article and  have to say I’m not eager to go this direction as a writer or a reader. #LitChat
GLHancock My disappearing epubs on Amazon are all interactive – linking to others and my website. So? #litchat
rcmogo Does anyone here know how to define “hypermedia?” #LitChat
LitChat Let’s get right into today’s discussion. If you have a question you’d like to submit, please post it here and I’ll add to queue. #LitChat
dellasm RT @MartinBrownPubs: Tips for Writing a Novel: Know the Difference Between Plot and Story #litchat #amwriting #write…
GLHancock @rcmogo Linked. #litchat
21stCscribe Nothing knew, BS Johnson did it in print with his book “The Unfortunates” #litchat a book-shaped box, loose chapters read in any order
NineTiger @LitChat The counter for the 72 hour book is all zeros. Has it been done already? #litchat
GLHancock @LitChat Why do you think no one read alone until novels were published? Stories, essays, poetry existed in print form. #litchat
agnieszkasshoes RT @21stCscribe: Nothing knew, BS Johnson did it in print with his book “The Unfortunates” #litchat a book-shaped box, loose chapters read …
novemberhill Trying to figure out if I have to put in #litchat or if it happens automatically if I’m logged in at nurph… #LitChat
LitChat I see you here! RT @novemberhill Trying to figure out if I have to put in #litchat or if it happens  #LitChat
Arzooman_Edit New to this chat; going to try to follow along best I can on my Android. #litchat
ChatSalad @novemberhill It happens automatically 🙂 #LitChat
LitChat Q1 How will the digital age open new ways of learning, discovering, and experiencing story?  #LitChat
novemberhill @LitChat Okay, great. I can relax and just type. #LitChat
novemberhill @ChatSalad Thank you. 🙂 #LitChat
LitChat Welcome. RT @Arzooman_Edit New to this chat; going to try to follow along best I can on my Android. #litchat #LitChat
LitChat Welcome, just dive right in. RT @palefacewriter Hi readers and writers. #LitChat
palefacewriter Well, I’ll never give up my interest in the experience of the traditional book.  Power Law of Participation interesting. #litchat #LitChat
21stCscribe Q1 new narratives that don’t have beginnings, middle ends if reader if choosing their progress trough them #litchat & thank god for that
novemberhill I am still blown away by my Kindle and being able to get a book in my hands within a matter of seconds.  #LitChat
rcmogo Me too! #LitChat
GLHancock A1 Can you spell multimedia? It’s already here. People are constantly mishmashing them, experimenting in many way, especially vids. #litchat
21stCscribe apologies for my awful typing tonight #litchat 2 mistakes in last 2 tweets *sigh*
novemberhill Am also intrigued as a writer when I open my own books on the Kindle and see the reader highlights – that is true feedback. #LitChat
NineTiger A1 How could you ever build a saleable collection if all ebook. Collector issues. #litchat
Arzooman_Edit @LitChat thanks, have not mastered Twitter chats on Hootsuite. #litchat.
palefacewriter A1: There’s an expectation for immediacy. Interactive, digital books seem to work well with that need in newer readers. #litchat #LitChat
21stCscribe collaboration with other artists too,I’ve collaborated with designer for kinetic typography short fiction #litchat Now that is new narrative
GLHancock @Arzooman_Edit Try the Internet-based sites: tweetchat, nurph, and twubs – all dot coms. #litchat
palefacewriter Yes, the ability to combine many creative aspects to enhance the written/printed word opens up cool possibilities. #litchat #LitChat
rcmogo Interactivity is changing the way stories are written, too. #LitChat
GLHancock @palefacewriter Of course, some people find all that annoying. #litchat
LitChat @Arzooman_Edit Here’s a link to our dedicated chat channel:  #LitChat
LitChat Q2 What kind of books/stories might we expect with social and interactive digital media? #LitChat
novemberhill Can’t see myself enjoying a novel as interactive experience – I value the writer’s authority in telling the story his/her way. #LitChat
Arzooman_Edit Q1 to me there’s a value 1st in being able to update nonfiction, but also to quickly correct mistakes, fiction or non. #litchat
palefacewriter RT @GLHancock @palefacewriter Of course, some people find all that annoying. Yes, all that “incoming” can be so! #litchat #LitChat
GLHancock A2 That depends on the publishers, but with SP (indies) I’d expect it more in genres. #litchat
21stCscribe @novemberhill interaction doesn’t necessarily mean the reader writes the book, maybe just chooses their own path through it #litchat
GLHancock @Arzooman_Edit Absolutely. Obviating errata sheets, sites, pages. #litchat
21stCscribe @GLHancock I’d find that depressing if it comes to pass. #genre #litchat
novemberhill @21stCscribe How would that work?  #LitChat
palefacewriter Readers have always participated in their/our own minds…interactivity is akin to a sci-fi plot entering real time. #litchat #LitChat
Arzooman_Edit Q1 but the expectation is already there that you should link to sources, or webpages of contributors, or even books like yours. #litchat
21stCscribe @novemberhill author skilful enough to write a story that doesn’t rely on fixed order, but open to many diff paths through #litchat
GLHancock Right now it appears inevitable that future books will come with built-in social media connections. #litchat
novemberhill I do love the ability to make corrections and update facts in nonfiction. #LitChat
rcmogo A2 The experience of the characters and setting can be much richer with supplement of social and interactive digital media #LitChat
palefacewriter A2: Adventures for sure. Sci-fi. Almost anything, I suppose. Yike. Imaginations cut loose! #litchat #LitChat
GLHancock @rcmogo Interrupting the flow of the narrative? #litchat
Arzooman_Edit @GLHancock thanks. I will sign up as soon as I get home to my computer #litchat
novemberhill @21stCscribe Not sure how that would play out in actual reading experience. Readers could read in any order in print book form. #LitChat
21stCscribe i think it’s quite limiting just to think about storytelling in these new media. #litchat
soniawrite @GLHancock #litchat well, all the various ebooks devices already have twitter and fb and all that
GLHancock @Arzooman_Edit I use TweetChat usually on my Kindle Fire. #litchat
21stCscribe @novemberhill and yet they don’t  🙂 #litchat
LucidGlow The most important tonight and ever is clearly WHSmith’s treatment of indie authors #litchat It’s just fucking unbelievable.
novemberhill How does writer offer a novel in a form that could be utilized best interactively? #LitChat
rcmogo @GLHancock More like “post story” experience. After finishing my favorite novels, I am always hungry for more information #LitChat
j4k061n RT @LucidGlow: The most important tonight and ever is clearly WHSmith’s treatment of indie authors #litchat It’s just fucking unbelievable.
palefacewriter A2: Of course, I think of it only as an additional option. Quiet books in printed form will always be welcome in my hands. #litchat #LitChat
GLHancock Block! #litchat
novemberhill @21stCscribe Well, I on occasion do – but usually on a second read, not generally the first. #LitChat
21stCscribe @palefacewriter as a reader, mine too. As a writer, less so #litchat
21stCscribe @novemberhill exactly. A book readable in any order is unique experience for each reader #litchat
novemberhill RT @palefacewriter A2:  Quiet books in printed form will always be welcome in my hands.   Mine too!! #LitChat
GLHancock I have to admit that a few times, I’ve sought out more info maybe about a setting like Pondicherry, IN or some other novel aspect #litchat
LitChat Q3 In her essay, @JaneFriedman asks: To what extent is the future of reading social? #LitChat
GLHancock And I appreciate authors’ notes on research in both nonfiction and novels, sometimes. #litchat
novemberhill So I am envisioning a novel where you put the chapters on shuffle and read it many different ways. #LitChat
21stCscribe @novemberhill  can be yes #litchat
novemberhill I have been adding back matter to some of my novels that includes my playlists of songs I listened to while writing. #LitChat
GLHancock A3 I don’t see why it should be any less than it is now and ever has been, though originally storytelling, not reading per se. #litchat
palefacewriter A2: Some interesting possibilities for enhancing poetry. As a writer, though, I’d be wary of allowing open access. (selfishwriter!) #LitChat
rcmogo A3 Simply because you can reach so many millions more people. #LitChat
JaneFriedman Something I didn’t write about: new digital book format that Intel is developing, particularly interesting for NF & fan fic (1/2) #LitChat
21stCscribe A3 the writing of a novel can be crowd sourced social. The reading still solitary, unless live stream author reading #litchat
soniawrite @LitChat @JaneFriedman #LitChat A lot! It already is somewhat. Wittness this chat. If it werent, authors wouldn’t be encouaged to blog/tweet
LitChat @JaneFriedman Is the Intel project an interactive format for reading? #LitChat
21stCscribe @soniawrite @novemberhill well it has been done before and in print! #litchat
JaneFriedman Allows new chapters or materials to be added by user or publisher, visible to all readers (if reader opts to see them). (2/2) #LitChat
soniawrite @novemberhill #litchat lol and get a different end each time. Could be an interesting experiment.
novemberhill Also pondering now how one might mimic the actual act of storytelling – where you write the version you “tell” & listeners continue #LitChat
palefacewriter A3: I thought that was worthy of pause and consideration. I think of it in degrees I suppose. How much interaction varies. #litchat #LitChat
agnieszkasshoes RT @21stCscribe: i think it’s quite limiting just to think about storytelling in these new media. #litchat
GLHancock @JaneFriedman Hi Jane! Thanks for that info about the new Intel book platform. Got a link? #litchat
21stCscribe @soniawrite @novemberhill well hopefully mine will be out next year #litchat
JaneFriedman Intel project sees each book as a community, w/many different levels of authorship/contribution, assuming publisher allows it. #LitChat
LitChat @JaneFriedman Do you know if they will develop proprietary hardware for reading new format? #LitChat
soniawrite @21stCscribe @novemberhill #litchat which books? got a recommendation?
21stCscribe @novemberhill why do we have to mimic or even tell stories in conventional/ trad way? #litchat
novemberhill I have considered that my connected novels could be linked so reader could follow a character link to different book. #LitChat
palefacewriter A3: Gets complicated. Who’s the author? Who holds copyright? Does it matter? (Yes) Does anyone care… #litchat #LitChat
JaneFriedman Intel project will be completely open source, so any publisher/author could make use of it. Not proprietary. Huge win for everyone. #LitChat
21stCscribe @soniawrite @novemberhill BS Johnson “The Unfortunates” #litchat
novemberhill We don’t have to – I may be stuck doing that myself but wld love to see what others do that is new and different! #LitChat
LitChat How much involve­ment will read­ers have in writ­ing process and final prod­uct (to the extent there is a “final” book)? (Friedman) #LitChat
21stCscribe in my digital novel project, would like to crowdsource art works for it on the book’s theme #litchat
novemberhill Need to say that I am getting somewhat overwhelmed with this new chat program – not following it as easily as tweetchat… #LitChat
LitChat Q4 How much involve­ment will read­ers have in writ­ing process & final prod­uct (to extent there is a “final” book)? (Friedman) #LitChat
palefacewriter A3: Possibly we will eventually find that a new definition of ‘reading’ emerges. Instead of merely reading, we immerse like gamers. #LitChat
GLHancock A4 None for me. I know how hard it is to write novels. I am a passive consumer, for entertainment only. You work – I read. #litchat
novemberhill I can see my teenagers immersing like gamers. I am dinosaur. Have never played computer game, ever.  #LitChat
LitChat @novemberhill Give it time. It’s easy to follow when your eyes adjust to the different look. #LitChat
JaneFriedman Q4 Feels like reader involvement will be driven by genre at first. Already see good examples of this in NF, happening w/fan-fic. #litchat
palefacewriter A4: I’ve thought of the new age process as kind of an unending, perpetually changing, story unfolding. #litchat #LitChat
LitChat RT @novemberhill I can see my teenagers immersing like gamers. I am dinosaur. Have never played computer game, ever.  #LitChat
rcmogo A4 – hopefully not much. There’s online software for collaborative story writing, probably shouldn’t apply to published fiction #LitChat
novemberhill @LitChat Will do. 🙂  Apologizing in advance for clunkiness today. #LitChat
GLHancock I’ve seen immersion books for children, and appreciated the appeal – to children. #litchat
agnieszkasshoes @LitChat A4 I imagine it will be very like ancient oral communities each creating their own versions of stories #litchat
JaneFriedman Q4 Right now, it takes great effort to promote reader-writer interaction in the development of a book. Need better tools/platform #litchat
21stCscribe I’m more interested in the look of a digital text, the way you can drill down to the level of typography for example #litchat
GLHancock @JaneFriedman Maybe many other readers are like me – don’t want to participate but to enjoy the end product only! #litchat
novemberhill @21stCscribe Love the idea of crowdsourcing art for a book. #LitChat
ampersand_h Kindle or print version? #litchat #books
21stCscribe think about if Jennifer Egan’s “…Goon squad” was online & really did have  a Powerpoint presentation Chapter! #litchat
Midnyghtskie Just stumbled across #Litchat, I’m so excited.. though waaaay behind. 🙂
richmagahiz @LitChat A4 Maybe more on the business side than on the actual writing side. Think Kickstarter-like process for greenlighting #LitChat
palefacewriter A4: Maybe a writer could audition potential contributors before granting access to project. that elitist? =;-) #litchat #LitChat
21stCscribe @novemberhill any maybe other aspects too, just not thought of them yet relevant to the book #litchat
Pendare YES! RT @GLHancock @JaneFriedman Maybe many other readers are like me-don’t want to participate but to enjoy the end product only! #LitChat
robynmcintyre A4: As much or as little as the author wants them to, I suppose. #LitChat
SheanaOchoa @LitChat @JaneFriedman Do you think interactivity heightens or diminishes critical thinking as a literary tradition? #litchat
GLHancock RT @ampersand_h Kindle or print version? / Of what? #litchat
palefacewriter Have any of you experimented with collaborations with other writers? #litchat #LitChat
richmagahiz @palefacewriter Only in poetry #LitChat
GLHancock @SheanaOchoa @LitChat @JaneFriedman Well, I, for one, do love footnotes, end notes, author notes, metameta. #litchat
novemberhill @palefacewriter I have collaborated with illustrator. Very cool to use apps to make collaborating easier.  #LitChat
LitChat Author & former Disney artist @AurelioObrien created an interactive site for GENeration eXtraTERrestial: #LitChat
21stCscribe @palefacewriter no, but other types of artists #litchat
palefacewriter I tried a short story once with five others. Then we did a public reading and humiliated ourselves. Humility is a virtue? #litchat #LitChat
GLHancock @palefacewriterI have enough trouble getting along with myself and clients. Collaboration brings shudders! #litchat
novemberhill @palefacewriter LOL! #LitChat
LitChat No apologies necessary. Yr insights are great. RT @novemberhill @LitChat Will do. 🙂  Apologizing in advance for clunkiness today. #LitChat
JaneFriedman @SheanaOchoa Interactivity typically involves collaborating, moderating, creating, questioning – which involve critical thinking? #litchat
rcmogo @SheanaOchoa Depends on the type of interactivity – but as a rule, I think interactivity makes anything less passive. #LitChat
druchunas @palefacewriter I am finishing up a book with a coauthor and have another series with a different coauthor/cocreator. #litchat
LitChat RT @rcmogo @SheanaOchoa Depends on the type of interactivity – but as a rule, I think interactivity makes anything less passive. #LitChat
Arzooman_Edit @JaneFriedman I do like the idea of collaboration in fine-tuning a book. It’s amazing what others can see that a writer misses. #litchat
novemberhill Interesting thought – I never think of myself when reading a great novel as being “passive.” Nothing abt the experience is passive. #LitChat
rcmogo Less passive 🙂 #LitChat
druchunas @JaneFriedman I don’t want reader interaction in the creation of my books. They are my art / products. #litchat
palefacewriter RT @druchunas: @JaneFriedman I don’t want reader interaction in the creation of my books. They are my art / products. #litchat
Arzooman_Edit @novemberhill I pretty much agree, but I do love seeing reader feedback. #LitChat
rcmogo @druchunas What about in the pre-published stages of your books? #LitChat
robynmcintyre @novemberhill That’s what I think. #LitChat
novemberhill Yes. RT @druchunas  I don’t want reader interaction in the creation of my books. They are my art / products. #LitChat
Pendare @Arzooman_Edit ABSOLUTELY.  #LitChat
GLHancock Most authors can benefit from collaborating with professional editors and proofreaders. #litchat
SheanaOchoa @JaneFriedman Rephrasing: how might it affect the imagination lit up by the experience/leisure of reading in solitude? #litchat
novemberhill Getting feedback from readers before publishing is a given for me.  #LitChat
Arzooman_Edit @LitChat oh, thanks. Just logged in! (I’m back at my home computer) #litchat
WheelhouseEdits Retweet! Retweet! Retweet! RT @GLHancock: Most authors can benefit from collaborating with professional editors and proofreaders. #litchat
gmcgarv Retweet! Retweet! Retweet! RT @GLHancock: Most authors can benefit from collaborating with professional editors and proofreaders. #litchat
druchunas @palefacewriter yuck. I am completely immersed in reading. I don’t find additional media enhances the experience. It’s distracting. #litchat
richmagahiz @druchunas @JaneFriedman The only visual artists okay with people scribbling on their art are some graffiti radicals #LitChat
LitChat RT @GLHancock Most authors can benefit from collaborating with professional editors and proofreaders. #litchat #LitChat
Pendare @novemberhill I’m fiercely possessive of my stories. And nobody ain’t gonna mess with my writing! #LitChat
Arzooman_Edit @druchunas I only like graphics and the occasional SHORT video. Long videos, forget it. But sources–Definitely. #litchat #LitChat
GLHancock @druchunas Ditto! In fact, that’s what I said earlier. Thanks for your support! #litchat
novemberhill @Pendare I absolutely value the author’s distinctive voice. #LitChat
21stCscribe @Pendare @novemberhill interactive does not necessarily mean the reader is part writing your story #litchat
novemberhill Am now envisioning the digital book version of playing albums backwards. 🙂 #LitChat
Arzooman_Edit @Pendare I am possessive once i’m sure the story is done and I’m happy. Will take suggestions during creative process. #litchat #LitChat
rcmogo Regarding collaboration and story writing, I think most writers seek out opinions and ideas during story creation. #LitChat
LitChat Q5 How can authors and publishers expect remuneration from interactive book? Are subscriptions to books on the horizon? #LitChat
palefacewriter Well, what about music to enhance something like spoken word? I use regularly and find the process creatively motivating. #litchat #LitChat
21stCscribe @Arzooman_Edit try this for size – 275 words, 3 mins video, different type of narrative #litchat
richmagahiz @21stCscribe @Pendare @novemberhill Think about how The French Lieutenant’s Woman was written with three endings #LitChat
GLHancock The only suggestions I’d want would be from fellow professionals, not feedback from potential purchasers. Feed me the ca$h! #litchat
21stCscribe @palefacewriter pproblem is copyright of music #litchat
rcmogo A5 Subscriptions seem to be lot more popular these days! #LitChat
JaneFriedman @SheanaOchoa Sounds like a Q for a researcher. But this isn’t an either/or debate, reading coexists with interaction. #litchat
palefacewriter I write the music. #LitChat
Arzooman_Edit I think 3 minute video (if you’re reading) is too long. #litchat #LitChat
novemberhill @richmagahiz Oh, great example. I had forgotten that. #LitChat
21stCscribe @Arzooman_Edit there’s no reading as such #litchat try it!
Pendare @richmagahiz You’re right! #LitChat
richmagahiz @novemberhill Well Fowles wrote that quite a while ago #LitChat
novemberhill @richmagahiz Yes, long while ago. #LitChat
GLHancock A5 At least 4 experiments in subscription services are now going. #litchat
Arzooman_Edit @21stCscribe not during a #litchat, but thanks.  #LitChat
palefacewriter @21stCscribe …I guess that’s collaborating with myself, lol! #LitChat
21stCscribe @novemberhill I like that idea! #litchat
21stCscribe @palefacewriter yes if you have the added skills why not? #litchat
GLHancock A5 Remuneration can be as varied as it is today. Is there anything new on the horizon @LitChat ? #litchat
richmagahiz @LitChat A5 Maybe you get the basic book (possibly free) but have to pay for remixes and mashups. Or vice versa #LitChat
21stCscribe @Arzooman_Edit I meant after the chat! 🙂 #litchat Just think much of  current thinking is too limited, trying new media 4 old narratives
palefacewriter A5: Contracts 101? Know what you’re expectations are before you begin seems like a good idea/ #litchat #LitChat
novemberhill Subscription to book-in-progress – get rough draft,  edits, etc. Interesting. I would pay to do that w/ much-admired writers. #LitChat
palefacewriter *your #LitChat
Arzooman_Edit @21stCscribe do you mean storytelling is limited? #litchat #LitChat
21stCscribe My digital online novel will be subscription. only way to menthes it #litchat
soniawrite @21stCscribe @novemberhill #litchat thanks!
Arzooman_Edit @novemberhill I don’t know if I would. I would have to REALLY love them. #litchat #LitChat
21stCscribe @Arzooman_Edit the way people are conceptualising it for new digital media right now is yes #litchat
GLHancock Is Amazon still doing that thing where you subscribe and they dribble out a story over weeks or months? Weird, I think! #litchat
novemberhill I’m thinking Michael Ondaatge and Barbara Kingsolver. Would love to see their process. #LitChat
21stCscribe @Arzooman_Edit we seem to be talking about interactive editing and beta reading. It can be waaay more than that #litchat
novemberhill @21stCscribe Yes, you’re right. I am just not thinking far enough outside the box.  #LitChat
palefacewriter A5: I would not subscribe to books, but I suppose it’s possible that many readers would consider this option if available. #litchat #LitChat
novemberhill Creaky brain. 🙂 #LitChat
21stCscribe @novemberhill well it’;s hard because there are no horizons, people falling off the edge of the world or getting vertigo! #litchat
Arzooman_Edit I’m for all kinds of art to convey a message, but I’m more into words for myself because that’s what I was trained in. #litchat #LitChat
21stCscribe why would you merely translate a block print from page to screen? Make it non-linear, tell diff type of story on screen #litchat
novemberhill I am still wowed by Durrell’s Alexandria Quartet – 4 POVs on same story. #LitChat
Arzooman_Edit I’m always looking at art that I love and thinking of ways to collaborate on a book with an artist. #litchat #LitChat
21stCscribe @Arzooman_Edit but words remain the centre of the art #litchat
JaneFriedman @SheanaOchoa Of course- I think main thing that’s forgotten is reading as solitary activity is fairly new, came w/wide literacy #litchat
LitChat At Carnegie Mellon University, a project is underway: SIX-DEGREES OF FRANCIS BACON, REASSEMBLING THE EARLY MODERN SOCIAL NETWORK. #LitChat
Arzooman_Edit If it’s created with words, yes …  #LitChat
GLHancock @novemberhill One of my undergrad college days’ faves! #litchat
richmagahiz @LitChat Ernest Cline put together a music playlist to go with Ready Player One. Maybe this can become more popular #LitChat
21stCscribe @Arzooman_Edit did you see Foer’s “Sea of Trees”? #litchat
palefacewriter A5: Marketing personnel are no doubt working variables out as we participate here. I’d be interested in the suggestions. #litchat #LitChat
Arzooman_Edit @21stCscribe no, what is it?  #LitChat
21stCscribe @Arzooman_Edit personally words are all I have. But can still do different things with them as building blocks. #litchat
novemberhill @GLHancock Still one of my all-time faves. Love love love it. #LitChat
LitChat Twitter feed for SIX DEGREES OF FRANCIS BACON: @6bacon. #LitChat
21stCscribe @richmagahiz @LitChat my previous novel has a DJ & all the songs he plays are on a spottily playlist the novel links to #litchat
novemberhill The reason I read is because of the way the words are put together by the writer. That will never change for me.  #LitChat
21stCscribe @Arzooman_Edit it’s a novel that is highly visual in that sections of pages are cut out, giving into view future sentences etc #litchat
Pendare RT @novemberhill The reason I read is because of the way the words are put together by the writer. That will never change for me. #LitChat
Arzooman_Edit @21stCscribe I am interested, but part of me keeps hearing, “A good novel isn’t enough anymore” #litchat.  #LitChat
LitChat Q6 The @6bacon project seeks to assemble early social networks. What kind of early social networks might they study? #LitChat
palefacewriter @novemberhill Agreed. =;-) #LitChat
GLHancock Not sure I’d want someone else’s music preferences inserted into my mind while reading. Like what I like! #litchat
21stCscribe @novemberhill but all we are saying is digital offers new & diverse ways of putting those words together on a screen #litchat
novemberhill I wouldn’t dare read any kind of interactive spin on a novel I have previously read and dearly loved.  #LitChat
LitChat RT @novemberhill The reason I read is because of the way the words are put together by the writer. That will never change for me. #LitChat
21stCscribe @Arzooman_Edit well Foer has a reputation as a decent novelist… #litchat My disappointment was that he basically adapted pre-existing book
GLHancock If I want to listen to music while I read, I turn on what I like to hear.  #litchat
palefacewriter A6: ICQ maybe? #litchat #LitChat
Pendare @GLHancock If the music on the playlist wasn’t to my liking, I wouldn’t read the book! #LitChat
druchunas @LitChat @rcmogo @SheanaOchoa reading is not at all passive. Page turning is interactivity. #litchat
21stCscribe @Pendare you won’t like my book then! #litchat
Arzooman_Edit I do have Jodi Picoult’s “Sing You Home,” which has a CD you’re supposed to play w the book. Haven’t had time  yet… #litchat #LitChat
LitChat I think they mean earlier than that. 🙂 RT @palefacewriter A6: ICQ maybe? #litchat #LitChat
novemberhill @21stCscribe Yes, I know. I would love to see stellar examples.  #LitChat
21stCscribe @Arzooman_Edit I can’t actually read when music is playing #litchat
Pendare @21stCscribe Sowwy! #LitChat
palefacewriter A6: like the partyline? lol #LitChat
GLHancock Early networks? Like campfires, church choir pactice, camp meetings, seances? Or BBS, forums, mailists? #litchat
21stCscribe @Pendare no problem #litchat
SheanaOchoa Lol”@druchunas: @LitChat @rcmogo @SheanaOchoa reading is not at all passive. Page turning is interactivity. #litchat”
richmagahiz @21stCscribe @Arzooman_Edit It can be hard to write when there’s music with words going on #LitChat
21stCscribe @novemberhill well a non-fiction example is Kafka’s Wound – just google it #litchat
Arzooman_Edit It’s supposed to enhance the story, one character is a songwriter. I’m not sure, you might have to pause your reading. #litchat #LitChat
novemberhill But of new work to me – at least initially. #LitChat
richmagahiz @GLHancock I was thinking of whether there were brothel-based Elizabethan social networks #LitChat
21stCscribe @richmagahiz @Arzooman_Edit see I can write to music, but not read or edit #litchat
novemberhill @21stCscribe Okay, I will check it out. #LitChat
palefacewriter Music… sometimes when I travel by air I play AC/DC or Bob Marley while reading. My preference to sniffing/chatter. =;-) #litchat #LitChat
Pendare @21stCscribe It’s classical all the way for me — which I also have on when writing. #LitChat
Arzooman_Edit I can sometimes write with a lot of noise, but hardly with just a little bit of noise. #litchat.  #LitChat
GLHancock @richmagahiz UK has long history of men’s clubs for all levels of society. #litchat
21stCscribe @richmagahiz 18th century writing in tea rooms & literary societies there #litchat
palefacewriter With headphones, of course. Wouldn’t want anyone else to be disturbed by my habits. #litchat #LitChat
novemberhill Usually I listen to my playlists as a way to get into the story. Not so much while I’m writing. #LitChat
Arzooman_Edit Seems it’s time to go. my LitCat keeps interrupting my #litchat.  #LitChat
richmagahiz @Pendare @21stCscribe But if the book is about punk anarchists classical might not be the most appropriate accompaniment #LitChat
GLHancock I pretty much go deaf when I’m working. #litchat
novemberhill @Arzooman_Edit Ha!!  Love it. #LitChat
novemberhill But the songs are picked specifically for the story I’m writing.  #LitChat
21stCscribe @richmagahiz @Pendare yeah I choose a soundtrack selection for each book & stick to it rigidly #litchat
palefacewriter @Arzooman_Edit Meow Disturbance? #litchat #LitChat
21stCscribe @novemberhill me too #litchat
Pendare @GLHancock Me too. Comes from tuning out four small boys! #LitChat
Arzooman_Edit Nice chatting. Glad I was able to use Nurph; it was so much easier to tweet! I’ll try to make the next one. #litchat #LitChat
GLHancock Needing to hear certain music to write smacks of needing “emotional support” to be a writer. I’m just sayin’ #litchat
palefacewriter A bientot, @Arzooman_Edit! #LitChat
LitChat What a blazing session of #litchat thanks to all of your brilliant minds. We’re going to submit the archive to #beyondthebook. #LitChat
GLHancock @Pendare For me, tho, it means I don’t hear dryer ding, washer end, doorbell … #litchat
Pendare @21stCscribe Mind you, when writing the WWII memoir, I did listen to all the appropriate music of the war years. #LitChat
novemberhill Terrific chat today – thanks for introducing me to nurph. Got to run get daughter from driver’s ed!  #LitChat
21stCscribe @GLHancock no, it’s about the rhythm or the setting #litchat
palefacewriter Thanks for sharing your thoughts, #litchat ers! Out… #LitChat
soniawrite Great chat! Wish I could have been here for all of it. #LitChat
GLHancock @21stCscribe “needing” anything not between your ears sounds like a deficit to me #litchat
LitChat Sending up a shout of THANKS to @JaneFriedman for stopping in today. She’s a beacon of light in this murky publishing climate. #LitChat
Pendare RT @LitChat Sending up a shout of THANKS to @JaneFriedman for stopping in She’s a beacon of light in this murky publishing climate #LitChat
Adult_ADHD_Blog @LitChat @JaneFriedman She sure is! ‘Was a huge help to @Jeff_Emmerson (me) 🙂 #LitChat
LitChat Come back for WritingWednesday when we discus KILLING THE CLICHES. #LitChat
GLHancock RT @LitChat Sending up a shout of THANKS to @JaneFriedman for stopping in today. .. #litchat
richmagahiz @GLHancock @21stCscribe Then needing coffee is a widespread deficit among writers #LitChat
StoryStudio RT @LitChat: Come back for WritingWednesday when we discus KILLING THE CLICHES. #LitChat
Pendare @LitChat That sounds like a great subject. Looking forward to it! #LitChat
GLHancock @richmagahiz  Pretty sure coffee is addictive substance. #litchat
GLHancock RT @LitChat Come back for WritingWednesday when we discus KILLING THE CLICHES./Ooo that’s a great topic for #writing  #litchat
Pendare Bye all.  #LitChat
LitChat Let’s welcome new voices: @Arzooman_Edit @rcmogo @druchunas @palefacewriter. We’re here  MWF, 4-5pmET. #LitChat
LitChat See you on Friday when actress & author Kathryn Leigh Scott @Dark_Passages joins us to discuss DOWN & OUT IN BEVERLY HEELS. #LitChat
LitChat RT @chriswhitewrite: .#LitChat @6Bacon Hellfire Clubs (or just gentleman’s clubs in general.) The Mohoks, maybe…
21stCscribe if anyone from #litchat wants to see a possibility for the new digital fiction, here’s a 3 min video story


The Way the Trees Are: Cabin #1


Five years from now, when the loons start to sing and the weather heats up,  we’ll want to read a real book or 2 up in Cabin #1, at the end of the path, deep in the woods where solitude reigns and cellphones don’t work. We will take  backroads up to the North Country,  avoiding EZPass scanners on I95, shutting off or leaving home any GPS enabled clothing, accessories like glasses, jewelry, or other devices. We’ll stop at non-chain eateries along the way, to avoid security cameras and ubiquitous computing opportunities at all the hot spots along the route, where what used to be furniture (tabletops, backs of seat cushions, menus, bathroom wall fixtures) now take the place of the devices we tote around today — PDAs and cellphones. Your retina scan, your thumb print, will let you log in from virtually anywhere (except Cabin #1!) . Even your clothing will be “hot!” Gone will be the days of toting around a plastic rectangle, keeping it charged, thumbing messages into or buying little custom color covers to protect it.  XML will rule; text will flow freely. You will be able to access your online avatar(s)  (you may assume multiple identities!) from anywhere, without needing to remember usernames and pwds because your retina/fingerprint/dna “me-suite” will take care of that customer ID you, and you will be able to get news, content, messages, pix, tunes, books  — hey, it’s all one! — from anywhere at any time. Take off your T-shirt, shake it to stiffen up the interface, and bingo, you’ve got a screen to stare at and live in, no matter where you are. When devices are gone, no longer will you have to wrestle with these costly “plans” from for-profit telcos to maintain your online presence, getting locked into years-long licenses of paying exorbitant fees for insubstantial digital “products” like # of text messages.  You will be required by the government to be online all the time, and will get fined and possibly jailed  if you are not online. Universal health care will mean that your biometrics will need to get uploaded regularly, or you will not be covered if you need medical attention.

So this trip to Cabin #1 for the purposes of reading a paper book, the old kind of reading where the type is sunk into the beautiful cotton paper of the page,  may be kind of radical act, kind of like the end of “Fahrenheit 451,” where the book lovers amble among the trees reciting the book they each memorized, after all the books have been destroyed. But remember, if you can get there, and avoid all the satellite- and tower- enabled scanners and ubiquitous readers along the way, there will be a shelf of good books, some clean water to drink, a rocking chair, and an unlimited vista of night stars waiting for you!

Paper vs. Digital


I say unfortunatly since i have always been in love with the published words and the smell of books.

digital reading seems to be the future, but ademant paper loving readers should fight or at least resist the battle to go with papers

There will always be books


Books are important. They educate us. They give us a great time. They show us marvelous adventours. Don’t you think it is great to sit in Starbucks and read your book  in the oldschool way – the paper one.  The scent of a book and the way a book looks like when you read it is diffrent to read a book on the iPad. Books can not be exchanged by the digital books.

The Watershed Manifesto


The arithmetic magicians of old did not know what fire they handled, what heat they hefted, when they considered the humble ’1′ and the mystical ’0′. Certainly, they knew of power there, but none could have guessed what this dynamic digital duo would be up to come the 21st century.  Indeed, heroic ‘one’ and the Enkidu ‘zero’ are a pair on a journey – and we are all along, passenger and crew.

The recent achievements of this binary couplet are many – but one in particular concerns us here.  Binary has (re)turned content into a fluid. By content, I mean the stuff we generate to fill pages and the grey between our ears.  Story telling, information transmission, all outward expression has been touched and transformed by digitization.

In the centuries-long epoch before alphabets and well before Guttenburg’s galaxy was colonized, story telling and information sharing were accomplished the old fashioned way – orally. Communication streams were fluid and rarely replicated with real precision.  Instead, oral histories and story traditions flowed from central tenants, varied in the telling as they flowed through time.  Communication was an act of memory, social interactivity, creativity, and present-tense, multisensual contexts (i.e. communicating by the hot fire, near those frog-chirpy trees, under the ruddy sunset sky…).

Alphabets solidified the stream.  They freeze the words in place forever, allowing a message to exist independently of the physical presence of the human messenger. Vellum, paper, and clay all substitute for a present-tense story teller, vibrations of air, and semiotic eyebrows.  As we’ve written in earlier posts, the wide spread of the paper codex eclipses orality with a print culture – one that puts the static paper book and its alphabetic encoding at the center of information transfer and story telling.  And this exchange has been at the center of civilization for some 10,000 years.

Things are different now. The advent of binary immediately disintermediated content from container.  And content is a multisensual stream once again.  Digital storage and design allows for the innovation of powerful forms of content delivery. These are post-book opportunities. These new forms allow for a return of the fluidity of yore.  Databases and APIs create a massive open memory archive.  Well-designed user interfaces allow access and amendment to multiple content forms and feeds.

These are our assertions:

We are post-book.  Digital affords us the opportunity to express book content in new effective forms and contexts.  The paper book is an object and as such is easily attended to with object metaphors.  Post-book artifacts and experiences are better characterized with stream metaphors.  Books are visual and tactile objects hinged, strung, and stitched into existence; post-books are engineered watershed ecosystems with multiple content streams and multisensual experiences.

Post-book artifacts and experiences provide
1. multifarious content
2. fluidity over fixity
3. sensuality over monosensual experience
4. multiple content streams
5. dynamic and social marginalia

Post-book content should follow the what we will call the “Daly Principle” after the writings of Liza Daly.  The principle may be stated thusly:  If a post-book work has a central content stream, the additional streams must be:

1. Nontrivial: natural and useful extensions of the central content such as primary source material, obscure topics, deep dives into related topics. These may be provided by the central content author, publisher, or other users. third parties.

2. Immersive: natural and useful extensions of the central content made available to the user “at the moment that these curiosities naturally arrive in the course of consuming the text.”

As a place rather then object, the post-book enables readers (users, visitors?) to co-author the text as well.  The content of a post-book experience may be authored by professional authors, the publisher, or readers.

Everything we state is already evident in the simplest of web pages. Hell, it was true of any MySpace page in 2001. It is true of several notable experiments with reading apps.  We are not calling for the invention of anything new.  Rather, we would like to bring these elements to bear directly on innovations in 1) digital storytelling vessels and 2) the mission statements of publishing companies old and new. Robust and courageous experimentation will yield the future.

By the way, we personally dislike the phrase post-book as a real name for what we describe – it is backwards-facing,  skeuomorphic, and hyphenated. We only employ it here for lack of the imagination to devise a better term.  Whosoever provides a better nomenclature for these new digital reading experiences wins a free phonebook…

reading or dreaming?


in the future, the reading space will be wherever you will want it to be. By looking at a spot in the corner of your eye you will start the possibility  to incrust text on your normal vision. Imagine sitting back in a comfortable armchair, looking outside your window at your garden. By focussing or relaxing, you could change the focus on either the garden outside, or the text overlaying on top.


Tactile reading?


Will Louis Braille teach a new way of reading to the non-blind as well? What if we could read with our fingers? Read forms and shapes, feel temperature? What if words could be translated into impressions and understanding via a tactile experience? Will our fingers be able to change the direction of a story? Point it in another direction? Will we be ble to hold stries in ur hands, like small balls, and then watch them unravel?



The image and the word will become more integrated. Perhaps written words will disappear altogether in some media, as images and video are used to communicate more.

In fiction, people will have more control over the outcome of stories, and be able to actually immerse themselves as characters in novels.

But there will still be a place for the beautiful physical book.

Books demand commitment.


Books demand commitment.

Text is everywhere; splashed on bus stops, T-shirts, the backs of cereal boxes; scrolling across the bottom of CNN, down our Twitter feeds, and popping up on our phones. We live in a world dense with cheap, utilitarian, garish, and irrelevant text, but there remains an aura about the book.

I’m Jewish, and the People of the Book take books very seriously. Simchat Torah is the holiday that celebrates with yearly cycle of reading the Torah; finishing the Torah, unrolling it, reading Genisis 1:1, rolling it back up, and then taking the torahs dancing around the synagog and into the streets.  The Shas Pollak were supposed to have memorized all 5000 pages of the Talmud such that a pin could be driven into the book and a page named, and they would be able to say what word the pin penetrated on that page. The Jewish community is built around one book, reread each year. The Shas Pollak burned a photographic version 12 volumes into their memories.

Judaism is a monomaniacal extreme, but lesser books than the Torah demand commitment as well. Many people describe an encounter with a book as life-changing. Even a disposable airport novel takes an hour or three of sustained attention. The respect that we have for books is multifaceted: the content itself, the idea that someone must have had something so burning to tell us that they were willing to spend months or years writing it down-this little project aside.  We respect the fact that this book got chosen and published, and not sent back to the slush pile. And finally, there’s respect for the object itself: for the care and craft that goes into binding pages together, for the authoritative account that will, with luck and care, last for centuries.

Commitment, attention: two things that are very scarce in this modern age. Readers are drowning in a sea of text, and books have to compete with everything else in life. I’m not even sure if transmedia books are really books, the disintermediation into movie tie-ins, fan communities, participatory publishing, and all that is about engaging with everything but the book itself.

In the future, people will probably read in dribs and drabs. Five minute breaks snatched in the check-out line or during breakfast. But there will still be some of the old-school who read books properly-marking out hour and day long chunks and delving deep into new worlds and conversations. We are the new People of the Book, and it’s not so much what we read but that we read that matters.

How will people read in the future?


The team in Frankfurt tackled our first big question on Wednesday morning: how will people read in the future? Their responses include ruminations on the phenomenology of distraction, the perfect piece of furniture, the politics of privacy and how readers are becoming more like writers:

Be sure to join us tomorrow when we consider the production of books, the interplay between writing and editing and the evolving concept of the book. Also, help us continue to explore the future of publishing by sharing your vision!


Reading Machines


One of the key attributes of reading is that – with very few exceptions – nobody else can do it for you. You have to plough through the whole thing yourself, or bounce from chapter to endnote, as is your wont: but nobody else can absorb the information on your behalf. (If a text can be reduced to a pre-digested summary, it was too long to begin with: or the digest is an incomplete representation.)

Reading is a rivalrous activity. You can listen to music or watch TV while doing something else, but you can’t (or shouldn’t) read a book while driving or mixing cocktails. Listening to audiobooks is only a partial work-around; studies suggest that knowledge retention is lower. Furthermore, they’re slower. A normal tempo for spoken English language speech is around 150-200 words per minute. A reasonably fast reader, however, can read 300-350 words per minute; a speed reader may absorb 500-1000 words per minute (although issues of comprehension come into play at that rate).

So, what kind of environment facilitates reading?

About fifteen years ago, I stumbled across my perfect reading machine – and didn’t buy it. It was on display in the window of an antique shop in Edinburgh, Scotland: a one of a kind piece of furniture, somewhat threadbare and time-worn, and obviously commissioned for a Victorian gentleman who spent much of his time reading.

In form, it was an armchair – but not a conventional one. Every available outer surface, including the armrests, consisted of bookshelves. The backrest (shielded from behind by a built-in bookcase) was adjustable, using a mechanism familiar to victims of badly-designed beach recliners everywhere. Behind the hinged front of the chair was a compartment from which an angled ottoman or footstool could be removed; this was a box, suitable for the storage of yet more books. A lap-tray on a hinge, supporting a bookrest, swung across the chair’s occupant from the left; it also supported brackets for oil lamps, and a large magnifying glass on an arm. The right arm of the chair was hinged and latched at the front, allowing the reader to enter and exit from the reading machine without disturbing the fearsome array of lamps, lenses and pages. The woodwork was polished, dark oak: the cushion covers were woven, and somewhat threadbare (attacked either by moths or the former owner’s neglected feline).

While the ergonomics of the design were frankly preindustrial, the soft furnishings threadbare, and the price outrageous, I recognized instinctively that this chair had been designed very carefully to support a single function. It wasn’t a dining chair, or a chair in which one might sip a wee dram of post-prandial whisky or watch TV. It was a machine for reading in: baroque in design, but as starkly functional as an airport or a motorway.

I knew on the spot and of an instant that I had to own this reading machine. For that is what this thing was: an artifact designed for the sole purpose of excluding distractions and facilitating the focused absorption of information from books. Unfortunately, in those days I was younger and poorer than I am today – and the antique store owner, clearly aware of its unique appeal, had priced it accordingly. I went away, slept uneasily, returned the next afternoon to steel myself for expending a large chunk of my personal savings on an item that was not strictly essential to my life…and it had already gone.

Chair and ottoman designed by Charles EamesThese days, I do most of my reading on a small and not particularly prepossessing sofa in one corner of my office. I’m waiting for the cats to shred it sufficiently to give me an excuse for replacing it with a better reading machine. When the time comes I will go hunting for something more comfortable: an Eames lounge chair and ottoman. Combined with an e-ink reader (with an edge-lit display for twilight reading), it approximates the function (if not the form, or the bizarre charm) of the eccentric Victorian reading machine that still haunts my dreams to this day.


Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons