How Did MultiTouch Fiction Become a New Genre of Literature?

by Stephan J Harper

Four key technology-driven developments are responsible for the massive paradigm shift disrupting the publishing industry today:

  • Mass-acceptance of e-readers
  • Explosive growth of self-publishing in the e-book format
  • Mass-adoption of advanced, feature-rich tablet devices
  • User-friendly authoring/publishing app with multimedia integration

This is an interesting list to reflect on. It seems hard to believe that serious observers once thought e-books would never catch on, that self-publishing wasn’t legitimate and the only way you would ever get your hands on a tablet computer was if you joined Starfleet. Being wrong is one thing; being spectacularly wrong when you’re supposed to know what you’re talking about…well, that’s something else entirely, isn’t it?

Apple’s release of the iPad was the third development and a technology milestone that essentially created the tablet marketspace. Now the defacto tablet standard with sales of over two hundred million units, the iPad is effectively the ‘only game in town’ for developers when it comes to an advanced mobile computing device capable of displaying content-rich multimedia apps in a large-screen format. Apple’s release of iBooks Author is the fourth development; one that is also accelerating the other three. iBooks Author was created so that authors could take books and ebooks beyond words and static illustrations by creating new titles – multimedia book ‘apps’ – specifically for the iPad. iBooks Author is a revolutionary product transforming genres one by one. Textbooks and Non-Fiction were the first to be re-imagined and re-invented, both to critical acclaim and widespread consumer appeal. iBooks Author has now given the concept of ‘enhanced interactive fiction’ the definition and scope it so badly needed, establishing the legitimacy of the new genre once and for all. We call this new genre MultiTouch Fiction.

Those ‘serious observers’ who dismissed e-books and tablets went apoplectic when ‘enhanced interactive fiction’ was first proposed. Integrating multimedia into a literary work of art? That was a violation of the first order and would be “as if someone had crayoned Donald Duck into the Last Supper.” The only thing this crowd wanted to draw was a line in the sand. Comically, they were wrong-headed here as well.

For the simple truth is that we live in a society dominated by visual entertainment, where opinion has never varied when it comes to the fulfillment readers experience from a favorite book of fiction. That is where literature has always derived its power. Given the entertainment preferences of consumers today, it seems inevitable that MultiTouch Fiction will have widespread appeal and become a preferred reading experience for millions. After all, how can you give over two hundred million iPad owners a new and completely unique reading experience, combining their favorite forms of entertainment with the most fullfilling, and expect anything less?

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