Building Books

As December rolls around, the perpetual question of “What would you like from Santa” is to be found in e-mails from supremely organized family members.  Just as well, then, that a compendium of “Best of 2012” lists abounds, and over the last few days I have been taking a gander at these lists, most obviously the lists for best books.

One of the ubiquitous occupants of these lists is the “book” BUILDING STORIES by Chris Ware. Although, in one review I read, calling Ware’s work a book, would be doing the book a disservice. BUILDING STORIES comes in a box and is compiled of fourteen pamphlets that readers are free to read in whichever order they choose. Readers are then able to re-order the sequence in which they read the materials again and again. In a sense, where is the last page of this book?

Or does there necessarily have to be one? Ware’s book in a box certainly grabs your attention through its inventiveness, but should we be at all surprised? With the expanding array of reading devices, the way we read books is growing ever more diverse, and what we read is becoming ever more multifaceted in the digital world. Books such as HISTORY OF A PLEASURE SEEKER have grown to become an interactive nest of audio, pictures, archives and art.

With these new forms of storytelling, where do you stand as an author? Is Ware an author in the traditional sense, or more of a compiler of artifacts? What do you think of multimedia being a part of your reading material? Is the digital reader set to become a digital explorer?

One Response to Building Books

  1. Kevin A. Lewis says:

    Although I have no problem with any tech people are willing to pay for, (a job for somebody, at any rate) a lot if most of these “new forms of storytelling” strike me as ephemeral at best and somewhat narcissistic overall. I still think a well-spun linear storyline has a greater chance of earning out in foreseeable real-time. Most of what is being plugged as the advancing frontier of the digital age (rather like the guy in Ghostbusters who muttered “print is dead” in 1984) are like these weak little sorta-rock bands you see on SNL these days-lots of floor pedals, and techy-looking props, but usually a weak (and often prerecorded) sound that nobody will recall in 15 minutes. I think the same thing applies to this field… Entertaining, but not exactly Led Zeppelin…

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