Authors need a vision of future reading

Future of books?
Future of books?

by Gina Burgess

Vlogs are video blogs. I am not a fan of videos except for the very few exceptional ones that come to my inbox ever so often. The reason is simple really. What takes an hour to watch, I could get much more out of it by reading the text and saving 3/4 of the time it takes to view the video. I have a white-knuckled grip on my paperback books and I’m so afraid our future will be like Total Recall when the news is on 24/7 on the wall screen and no newspaper beside your breakfast coffee.

What does the future of reading look like?

I hear quite often and I’m extremely sorry that kids today “don’t like to read”… what a lot they are missing!!! What kind of control over their imaginations they are giving up. My friend Carolyn wrote a children’s story that I am illustrating. She asked and received permission to read this story to several elementary classes. With no illustrations only words, the children sat rapt; wrapped in their imaginations as the story unfolded. That’s what reading, and as in this example, hearing the words can do for encouraging the imaginations of children who haven’t yet lost that wonder and enjoyment of a good story.

Studies prove images in tweets get much more attention and response than plain tweets? Why is that? Why do blog posts get more response when images are used? Why do newspapers have to have a big photo above the fold? Why do videos and movies have to have bigger, more elaborate, more intense graphic scenes than 10 years ago?

A view of power through images

There is a fellow by the name of Shane Hipps (you can view an interview that is thought provoking and eye-opening here at YouTube) who talks about how we become trapped with images. When reading or listening to a story and you hear the words “an old man,” your imagination takes off and conjures an image in your mind that can be as wild or staid as you care to be. Yet, if someone says, “an old man,” and holds up an image then they control your imagination and your creative thinking stops at the image (Shane, 2011). Creativity is trapped.

Think about that for a moment. What power that generates for the author when you can control the vision of another person through images. Remember the book A Clockwork Orange? It was written by Anthony Burgess (don’t think there’s any relation to me) in 1962, but what a huge vision this guy had about the future use of images.

Our minds are great and glorious things because God created them that way. I am not saying that our creativity stops. Obviously, God made our brains with gigantic capacity for creativity. But the brain doesn’t have to work as hard when we look at images. So is creativity going off in a different direction? What is the point of having an imagination if we just sit and watch TV or a movie or YouTube videos?

What is staring us authors in the face is the huge question: How does this shape the future of books… and reading… and authors’ future creations?

Is this the sad conclusion: We will settle into the realm of someone telling us what to think about? Will it come to the point where everyone is watching the monkey, but only one or two have their eyes on what is really going on?

I’m wondering what books will look like in 10 years. Will we have to have images in order to sell our books? What does the future of books look like to you?

Hipps, S. (2011, April 14). Interview with Shane Hipps: The OAT Podcast. Spring Arbor University.

2 thoughts on “Authors need a vision of future reading”

  1. Well written and thank you. I will add in my children’s books the visual characters are a necessity because they are based on real life dogs so not every book should be without illustrations.

  2. I so much agree with you, Patrice. I didn’t mean to give the impression that children’s books should not have illustrations. I do that for a living so I don’t want to cut my nose off to spite my face 🙂 I was just amazed the children could hear a story and it come alive in their imaginations even today with so many staring at Doc McStuffins and Mickey Mouse on TV. I loved Tom Terrific and Roadrunner when I was a kid.

    I’m just wondering if our future will be so full of images that authors will have to fill their books with images like graphic novels. Are we so addicted to imagery that books will go the way of adult coloring books? Just wondering…

Comments are closed.