As a librarian, a few years ago I wrote an academic article on “The Shifting Landscape of E-books.” Now, there are signs that literature itself is shifting and not just in format. Of course, there are more e-books, but that’s often just how they’re delivered. What about literature itself? We have plenty of traditional literature, but we also have other physical forms of literature and digital literature. What does that mean for writers?
Years ago, I had the privilege of enjoying an exhibit of some of the painted story quilts by Faith Ringgold. Tar Beach may be her most famous example. While she is an artist who works in many media, her painted story quilts are good examples of how storytelling and literature can come in many forms.
Flash poetry could never appear on a printed page or even a digitized version of a printed page because the words and letters move around. A screen is its natural home.
Digital storytelling is a mix of video, still images, audio, script, text, you name it. You can see some examples at http://storycenter.org/stories/ Words are part of the end result, but they come in many different ways and are just one part of the story.
Even e-books are now becoming more than a printed book in e-format. Creators now see many possibilities beyond that. Take a history book, for example. You can embed an audio of President Kennedy giving his famous inauguration speech or a video showing a re-enactment of a civil war battle, enriching the text. Some of these books now come with accompanying web sites.
Of course, it’s hard to tell when a book is a book enhanced by audio and video or when its a little movie with accompanying text, but does it matter? What matters is that we continue to create meaningful experiences and great literature−in whatever way we choose.