So true. I have a Kindle while my partner has an iPad. Whenever he sees me pack the Kindle into my handbag, he suggests that I bring the iPad instead. The iPad is a really nifty home media device, but I just can’t use it with one hand!
Now that books are migrating to digital form, publishers are busy looking for ways to supplement and enrich print versions of books. So far, publishers are doing little more than mimicking what you see under bonus materials on a DVD menu, but surely that will change in time. I wouldn’t kick, say, Faulkner’s commentary track for The Sound and the Fury out of bed, but I’m more interested in what he could do with a multimedia approach to fiction. Faulkner himself was intrigued by what amounted to the multimedia possibilities of his time, having marked up Benjy’s section of The Sound and the Fury with different-colored inks to denote the different levels of time that existed in the manuscript (his publisher deemed the idea too expensive, and somehow Faulkner’s marked-up copy was lost, making it one of the missing grails of antiquarian book collectors).
Somewhere, though, there is some 12- or 15-year-old writer who, 20 years from now, will concoct a hybrid work of art—part book, part film, part symphony?—the likes of which we simply haven’t seen yet. In the shorter term, there is no reason why any book about music should not be amplified, somehow, with a track list of songs referenced in the text. Or how about a copy of Edgar Allan Poe’s The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket with an accompanying online gallery showing lithographs of what people of his time knew of Antarctica? These suggestions, of course, fall squarely in the predictable category. It’s what we haven’t seen yet, or dreamed of, that engages my imagination, and, I hope, the imaginations of future artists. But there are stories as yet untold that will surely take full advantage of cross-platforming, miscegenating multimedia.”