microlit looms large 12.08.2004, 8:28 AM
posted by ben vershbow
We've been hearing more and more about the phenomenon of books downloaded to a cell phone screen, so much so that even the mainstream press has been talking about a resurgence of e-books - a topic they almost entirely dropped after the efforts of Microsoft and Gemstar failed to take off a couple years back. And people are doing more than simply reading books on their phones - they can surf the web, watch soap operas and, of course, play video games as they throttle through the subway or break for lunch.
Perhaps most interesting is that while many cell phone readers are downloading conventional print texts - novels, popular nonfiction etc. - there are many more, especially in Asia, who are downloading literature that is being written exclusively for this new medium, particularly serialized novels. These stories are intended for bite-sized consumption, peppered throughout the day, week or month. And they often employ the new technology as literary device - SMS romances, mysteries spun from a single errant text message. Once again, the medium proves to be the message..
It's hard to tell where this is going, but it's certainly more interesting than the prefab model promoted in the first generation of e-books. There is something totally original, totally native, about this new wave of digital reading.
Gary Frost on December 20, 2004 7:05 PM:
We always knew that cell phones were cameras and texting keypads, but now they are books as well. These minature displays should merge reading modes as well as their larger screened precursors.
Forget the ebook premise; cell phones may be the ultimate exemplar of the composite reading mode intermingling verbal/visual, written and print parent modes. The cell phone, not the book, may be the avatar of the composite reading mode.