Barnes & Noble, that after proud anchor to many a suburban mall, is waning. It isn’t always failing suddenly, dropping like the savaged corpse of Toys “R” Us, however it additionally clean that its cultural second has surpassed and best drastic measures can save it from joining Waldenbooks and Borders within the terrific, paper-smelling ark of our e-book-shopping for memory. I’m thinking about this because David Leonhardt at The New York Times calls for B&N to be stored. I doubt it could be.
First, there’s the sheer weight of real property and the inexorable slide far from print. B&N is now not an area to shop for books. It is a toy save with a lavatory and a restaurant (and now a restaurant?), a spot where you’re much more likely to find Han Solo bobbleheads than a Star Wars novel. The vintage pleasure of visiting a bookshop and finding some magical books to pull home is rapid being replicated via smaller bookstores in which curation and provenance are nevertheless essential whilst B&N pulls an increasing number of titles. To wit:
But does all of this remember? Will the written word — what you’re reading right now — live on the following century? Is there any fee in an ebook whilst VR and AR and different interfaces can recreate what amounts to the implicit cost of writing? Why keep B&N if writing is doomed?
Indulge me for a moment and then argue in comments. I’m posting that B&N’s failure is indicative of a circulate closer to a put up-text society, that AI and new media will redefine how we devour the sector and the fact that we see greater films than textual content on our Facebook feed – ostensibly the sector’s social apprehensive device – is indicative of this alteration.
First, a few minds on writing as opposed to film. In his ebook of essays, Distrust That Particular Flavor, William Gibson writes approximately the complexity and training and revel in had to devour numerous kinds of media:
The e-book has been largely unchanged for centuries. Working in language expressed as a device of marks on a surface, I can induce extraordinarily complicated studies, however handiest in an audience elaborately educated to experience this. This platform nevertheless possesses positive inherent advantages. I can, for example, render interiority of person with an ease and specificity denied to a screenwriter.
But my target audience ought to be literate, ought to recognize what prose fiction is and recognize how one accesses it. This requires a complexly cultural education, and a certain socioeconomic basis. Not everyone is afforded the posh of such an schooling.
But I don’t forget being taken to my first movie, either a Disney animation or a Disney nature documentary (I can’t recall which I noticed first), and being crushed with the aid of the steep but almost instantaneous mastering curve: In that hour, I found out to look at the movie.
This is a deeply crucial idea. First, we should respect that writing and movie provide various fee provides past linear storytelling. In the e-book, the author can discover the internal area of the character, providing you with an imagined global in which humans are thinking, not simply appearing. Film — also a linear medium — gives a visible illustration of a tale and thoughts are inferred by way of a dint in their humanity. We realize a person’s inner lifestyles thanks to the emotion we infer from their face and frame.
This is why, to a degree, the CGI human became so tough to make. Thanks to books, comics, and the movie we, as human beings, were used to giving animals and enchanted matters business enterprise. Steamboat Willie by and large idea like us, we imagined, even though he become a mouse with large round ears. Fast-forward to the dawn of CGI human beings — think Sid from Toy Story and his ugly face — and then fly even further into the future Leia looking out over an area warfare and mumbling “Hope” and you see the scope of fulfillment in CGI human beings in addition to the deep problems with representing humans digitally. A CGI automobile named Lightning McQueen acts and thinks like us while a CGI Leia seems bare off. We can’t companion company with faux human beings, and that’s a problem.
Thus we needed books to give us that inner look, that frisson of discovery that we are lacking in real existence.
But soon — and we will argue that movies like Infinity War prove this — there could be no uncanny valley. We could be not able to tell if a human on display or in VR is real or faux and this lets in for a thrilling set of possibilities.
First, with VR and different hints, we ought to see through a man or woman’s eyes and even hear her mind. This interiority, as Gibson writes, is now not located inside the realm of textual content and is as an alternative an brought appeal to an already rich medium. Imagine hopping from character to individual, the reactions and mind coming hot and heavy as they move thru the motion. Maybe the story isn’t linear. Maybe we make it up as we cross along. Imagine the remix, the rebuild, the restructuring.
Gibson once more:
This spreading, melting, flowing together of what once has been awesome and separate media, that’s where I believe we’re headed. Any linear narrative movie, as an instance, can serve as the armature for what we would think about as a digital fact, but which Johnny X, 8-year-antique stop-factor customer, up the road, thinks of as how he appears at stuff. If he discovers, say, Steve McQueen in The Great Escape, he would possibly idly pause to allow his avatar a freestyle Hong Kong kick-fest with the German guards in the prison camp. Just due to the fact he can. Because he’s constantly been able to. He doesn’t reflect consideration on these items. He probably doesn’t fully remember the fact that that hasn’t continually been possible.
In this case, B&N and the bookshop don’t want to exist in any respect. We get the intensity of books with the energy of film melded with the immersion of gaming. What approximately artisanal ebook fanatics, you argue, they’ll maintain matters alive due to the fact they love the feel of books.
When that experience — the scent, the heft, the antique ebook scent — may be simulated do we need to go to a bookshop? When Amazon and Netflix spend millions to explore new media and are sure to branch out into more immersive bureaucracy do you need to immerse your self in The Lighthouse? Do we really need the education we as soon as had to gain on the way to study an ebook?
We know that Amazon doesn’t care about books. They used books as a place to begin taking on e-trade and, whilst the Kindle is the great gadget for e-books in life, it’s miles an afterthought compared to the rest of the enterprise. In short, the champions of textual content slightly guide it.