Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Just give me a book to read -- a REGULAR book!

Today, I came across an article about how a certain famous author's book is being "amplified" with spiffy videos and audio features one would not normally find in a regular book. In fact, these features will be more useful for an electronic version of a book, such as an iPad or iPhone.

After reading that article, I had to just shake my head over the whole thing. Apparently, a regular book to read just doesn't cut it anymore. Nowadays, publishers want to spiffy up a book with videos and audio and all that other techie stuff.

Granted, I realize that publishers are trying to target the tech crowd, attract young readers more receptive to the latest technological trends and grab hold of readers who prefer eye candy over using their brain. But when this kind of thing needs to be done at all in order to attract readers to a book, one can't help but ponder the sorry state of Americans' appreciation of good old-fashioned literature in a regular book.

The one thing that bothered me about this is how all of that fancy-shmancy audio stuff would be worthless to someone who is profoundly deaf. And I mean "deaf" as in "deaf as a post." I wouldn't be able to enjoy any of that audio stuff the same way a hearing person could, so what good would that do me?

Another thing about this was troubling: The fact that there were videos showing what characters look like and what the setting looks like. Excuse me if I take a little offense to this, but isn't that the author's job? If a writer writes well enough, describing a character or describing a setting, then I should be able to get a pretty good picture of everything in my head. And on that note, what's wrong with my own imagination? I mean, give me credit for being a little creative myself. I can imagine what a character looks like or how a character's voice sounds without somebody else telling me or making that decision for me.

Part of the attraction of reading a novel is to escape to that story world, but also to be able to imagine the whole thing as I read. Therein is how our imagination is strengthened: By reading a story with good description and good detail, so that we can process this information to develop a picture of the story in our head. So when a publisher decides to take care of all that for a reader, eliminating the need to be creative and use our imagination, then there goes our ability to have our imagination grow just from reading a good story! Excuse me for getting the shade of a character's hair wrong -- my bad!

The other thing that attracts readers to a novel, particularly a deaf reader, is that you don't need to be able to hear to enjoy a book. That's one reason why I have always loved books: You don't need to hear to enjoy them! The same goes for someone who is blind, because there are audiobooks and books available in Braille.

That said, I only hope, and pray, that the old fashioned print books will never be replaced by those spiffied-up techie books. If it's one way to get the younger generation to read, fine. But please leave print books and regular ebooks in the picture, too, so that the rest of us can continue to enjoy them.

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