Multimedia or Straight Text?

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Margo
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Multimedia or Straight Text?

Post by Margo » August 20th, 2010, 11:53 am

The discussion in the publishing section of the forum in the thread about e-books eating the world developed at one point into an interesting tangent on the reasons people do or don't want their books to come with additional types of media.

Some people really like the idea that an ebook might come with a soundtrack or more visual material from the author's perspective, imbedded links to historical sources, etc. (This is separate from the function Nathan mentioned liking: the ability to click on a word to get a definition.)

Other people argued that straight text that requires readers to use their imagination, thereby making them participants rather than viewers, was their preference.

I'd love, just out of curiosity, to get a rough count of how many people fall into which category. Would you like your books to come with music or more illustrations or source material (or any other cool add-on a writer or publisher can come up with)? Or do you take your text straight (no ice, no little umbrella, preferably in a dirty glass)?

My preference: straight text.

And y'all peoples' preferences?
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Re: Multimedia or Straight Text?

Post by stephmcgee » August 20th, 2010, 12:04 pm

Straight text. Although I do like when books (and they're usually YA or MG) have little chapter illustrations (a la the Harry Pottter books) or an occasional full-page black-and-white rendering. (Brandon Mull's Fablehaven books have both.) They add without distracting. I think that embedded links and such would prove so distracting. We already hear that peoples' attention spans are getting shorter. Do we need to provide them with more excuses not to keep reading the text?

Straight text all the way.

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Bryan Russell/Ink
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Re: Multimedia or Straight Text?

Post by Bryan Russell/Ink » August 20th, 2010, 1:30 pm

Text text text text text. And then some more text. Unless I'm reading a graphic novel. Which would sort of defeat the point.

An end to straight text would be pushing a stake into my poor little vampiric heart.
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steve
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Re: Multimedia or Straight Text?

Post by steve » August 20th, 2010, 1:38 pm

Dickens, Lewis Carroll, Conan Doyle, and Pynchon all used illustrations well.

WG Sebald and Javier Marias use photos well.

Very few people use them well.

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Margo
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Re: Multimedia or Straight Text?

Post by Margo » August 20th, 2010, 1:48 pm

Bryan Russell/Ink wrote:...my poor little vampiric heart.
Ah, lovely. Mine's a cold hard black grinch heart. Perhaps I'll run into you at the cardiologist's office sometime.
Urban fantasy, epic fantasy, and hot Norse elves. http://margolerwill.blogspot.com/

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Bryan Russell/Ink
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Re: Multimedia or Straight Text?

Post by Bryan Russell/Ink » August 20th, 2010, 6:20 pm

steve wrote:Dickens, Lewis Carroll, Conan Doyle, and Pynchon all used illustrations well.

WG Sebald and Javier Marias use photos well.

Very few people use them well.

Image
Well, Sebald doesn't have any frigging paragraphs, so I think the reader would suffocate and die without the pictures. Not that I don't love him anyway. Austerlitz is amazing.
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Re: Multimedia or Straight Text?

Post by Sommer Leigh » August 22nd, 2010, 11:25 pm

I like both, depending on the book. It would depend entirely on how they are integrated.

Like, Amy and Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan Matson has soundtracks and pictures from the character's road trip throughout the book. I think it would make for an excellent interactive media heavy digital book.

Scott Westerfeld's Leviathan would also make a great book using media in the digital format.

I do not think all books would do as well, however, and should stick to text only.
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Re: Multimedia or Straight Text?

Post by beeboo15 » August 23rd, 2010, 8:55 am

Straight text. I read to escape into my mind and don't want to be dragged back to reality by links or ill-chosen soundtrack.

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Re: Multimedia or Straight Text?

Post by wetair » August 23rd, 2010, 1:00 pm

straight text. unless i was reading historical fiction (or a history text, even), that pictures and source material would make an interesting add-on. for memoirs, pictures and sound would make an interesting add-on, i think. in fact, for any non-fiction, source material and references and links and so on would be very, very nice to have.

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Re: Multimedia or Straight Text?

Post by Nathan Bransford » August 23rd, 2010, 9:53 pm

Depends on the genre and execution for me. The Alice app on the iPad is pretty cool, I've seen some cool Vooks, and I can imagine books (Jon Krakauer's spring to mind), where videos and color images embedded in the text would add a lot to the reading experience.

But if the author didn't intend for it to be there originally: not sure I want to see it. I might like some whaling-ship diagrams with MOBY-DICK, but I don't need any bad animations.

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Re: Multimedia or Straight Text?

Post by J. T. SHEA » August 24th, 2010, 11:03 am

Both. The I-Pad ALICE app is fantastic, but is it a book or a game, or both? It is certainly another strong argument against standalone E-ink readers, and for versatile portable devices like the I-Pad.

Giving Melville's (im?)famous completism, he would probably have included whaling ship diagrams in MOBY DICK if he could, along with a lump of real blubber in the middle of the book! Now THAT would give the book smell lovers something to really rave about!

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Re: Multimedia or Straight Text?

Post by AnimaDictio » August 27th, 2010, 4:00 pm

I love the idea of music while I read. Nothing more. But then, I'm a musician.

Margo
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Re: Multimedia or Straight Text?

Post by Margo » August 27th, 2010, 4:29 pm

So far it looks like we have:

Straight Text: 4
Both/De: 4
Multimedia: 1

If I count 'Both' as 'Yes on Multimedia' (if it's well done, appropriate to the project, etc), which sounds fairly reasonable to me, then it's coming out about even. That's more or less what I suspected. However, a sample of nine wouldn't exactly be getting me into any academic journals. Are their 1491 more people out there who'd like to weigh in?
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Re: Multimedia or Straight Text?

Post by amyashley » August 27th, 2010, 6:15 pm

Both. I think having more choices is wonderful! There are some truly beautiful books out there that I would hate to see disappear entirely. I don't think paper page books will ever die. However, I am a devoted Kindle owner for a number of reasons, and I love reading my fiction of all genres on it. I have no intention of buying my reading in standard book form ever again.
I can see instances where music, video, dictionary applications, embedded links, illustrations, charts, maps, and more would be helpful and could expand a reading experience. I think it would bring a new definition to my enjoyment of the media. I can also see instances where it could be distracting and could cloud the work.

Like adjectives, perhaps the addition could be wonderful, but too much would be simply too much.

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Nathan Bransford
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Re: Multimedia or Straight Text?

Post by Nathan Bransford » August 27th, 2010, 6:59 pm

By the way, I wanted to mention another e-book innovation that's on the near-term horizon. Pretty soon you'll apparently be able to read an e-book on an e-reading device, then if you go for a drive or go for a walk you can switch over to the audiobook version, which will pick up right where you left off, and then when you want to read again you'll be able to switch back to text and it will sync to where the audiobook left off.

Only possible with digital.

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