Do Authors Dream of Electric Sheep?

The year is 2060.

Paper is something you own if you are rich. Books written on it change hands like Monets. Expensive, rare.

Literature for the public is electric. Download it, mash it up and insert soundbites into shuffle in your i-pod.

There are few authors. Most make do with their print electric, but some dream of reality. Like Rick Deckard in Philip K. Dick's Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep who dreams of owning a real sheep instead of an electric one.

Rick Deckard is given the chance to own a real sheep. He has to kill androids to get it.

I ask myself, what do I dream of? What would I do to get it?
I've just woken from a dream where I have strung three adverbs into a line in my website.

'Hi I'm Isaac,' said Isaac slowly, painfully, deliberately.

I wake splutering 'ly' on the end of all my words. I walk to the bathroom and spit them into the sink.

Is this what I dream of? Is this what my dreams have become? Or do I dream a bigger picture. A dream where the sheep is real. The electric is paper. The book in my hands before me. Tactile, crisp, alive.

The year is 2080.

I'm 93.
The book is electric. I'm going to kill to make it into print.
Androids are going to die.

I awake in the year 2007.

I enter the bathroom and stand as the shower changes the tone of my skin.


Unknown said...

... call me old fashioned but I still I enjoy reading a book so much more than reading a computer screen... maybe old fashioned but true!!!!!

Emily Suess said...

That's not old fashioned, RM. I like to call it nostalgic. There's just something about turning a page.

Mike French said...

I agree with both of you. I much prefer the turn of paper to pixels.

I am trusting that most people are the same and that having my book available for free on my blog won't diminish sales of the book when it finally finds the light of day.

Feedback on facebook from the group Digg The Tree seem to back this up:

Charlie Wykes/facebook:

Paper paper paper... I experimented with online books, online newspapers and so on but it's just not the same. Aside from the portability issues, reading for me is a tactile experience. Perhaps that's something learned in childhood and our children will see (or feel) it differently?

Liz Simmons/facebook:

Definitely paper!! Apart from simply prefering it, I'm ruining my eyes using online journals etc too much! V much the romantic student/reader, give me a book over these new-fangled cassettes/podcasts/blogs anyday! said...

"I am trusting that most people are the same and that having my book available for free on my blog won't diminish sales of the book when it finally finds the light of day."

I think the people who followed your blog will be among the first to get the hard copy. :)

Anonymous said...

Writing a book and reading a book is about the total experience....e-books always feel cheep and shonky to me...when you sit with a novel you effect you whole environment, lighting, sounds, temperature, mood, even drinks and munchies....the whole is the book...not just the words on paper... an e-book takes that away and it will be a sad when it becomes a reality....but it will eventually...

Unknown said...

Will paper ever go out of fashion... perhaps someday in many generations to come, but physical media provides more of the tactile experience I think everyone still desires.

As for me, having already published a book, and now having a blog where I post excerpts and photographs I made for the book, the main deterrent I think to actual book sales is the cost to get it into a bookstore. However with parts of the book now blogged, readership has gone up as I can tell from the analytics of how long, and how many pages people are viewing at single time.

Reading is a different experience for each person. Many prefer paper, but tonight a friend of mine showed me his iPhone. This little device is more computer than phone. One barrier to electronic media I think is also the perceived "work" that must be done in loading up your laptop and selecting files and paging throgh them. However with the iPhone, and devices surely to improve upon it in the next decade, this "work" that must be done to read electronic pages will go away. I fear that I too will one day want such a utlitarian device, something that I can, with a push of a button, get access to words and pages just as easily as having opened a book... the perceived "work" to get to electronic media is gone. And then too I take into account that I can now have several books on this small device, which greatly reduces the poundage I must carry around when travelling with multiple books.

In the end, our generation I think will make use of both electronic and paper(though currently now I guess you can read most of my book for free on my site... whereas only the physical copies make me any money). But one day, paper will seem "anti-green" -- too many forests killed for the paper they are made into... and in will come this devices ready to supplant the paper world, along with our children wholly read to adapt to such a new landscape. Paper is doomed, but not for many decades.

I think of it in terms of the movie theaters. I go to them alot less, but some movies I prefer to see with other humans around... our need for social contact, as with the need to tactile contact with books, will always be there. Just not in the same way we knew them in our age. said...

In case any are interested, here is my site (I failed to post it in my comment above - feel free to offer any of your thoughts as well on it): said...

I love the look of a full book shelve. Full of your favorite books and things. Although, this post is interesting to think about and makes you wonder what it will be like?

I definitely think people will still want to buy your book. Although, I wonder about posting stories that I may like to send to publishers one day. There is still so much we don't know about the internet, isn't there? Actually there's still so much I don't know about the book market!



Mischka said...

I enjoy holding a book, and the smell. (I love the smell of books) For me it's an experience to hold a book in my hands, and turning the pages one by one. Besides, I can't really sit in front of the computer for a very long time. I don't find it very comfortable.