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Old 12-06-2009, 06:10 PM   #1
DMcCunney
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Will e-books spell the end of great writing?

How much have our perceptions of reading and writing changed now that you can craft a novel on a laptop and scroll through it on a Nintendo games console? This Christmas could be the moment when our idea of curling up with a fat novel are transformed for ever, says Tim Adams

http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2009...ntent=My+Yahoo
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Old 12-06-2009, 06:20 PM   #2
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I don't see why it would have any impact.

Great writing is great writing weather read on paper, an e-reader, a computer screen etc.

I don't see the writing quality suffering, or people's standards dropping etc.
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Old 12-06-2009, 06:44 PM   #3
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Didn't great writing already end with the move to the soulless scroll from the vibrancy of clay tablets?
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Old 12-06-2009, 06:50 PM   #4
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As I recall, in 1999 some group made a list of the twentieth century's best 100 novels, and nearly all of them were written before 1950.

I am under the impression that many people feel that the nineteenth century was (at least so far) the high water mark of great novels.

So that leads me to believe that there is a problem unrelated to technology.
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Old 12-06-2009, 09:23 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by GA Russell View Post
As I recall, in 1999 some group made a list of the twentieth century's best 100 novels, and nearly all of them were written before 1950.
It's usually the way these top 100 things work, if votes are open to the general public then results are biased towards more recent works and if it's decided by a smaller group then the reverse tends to be true as they then want to feel superior to others by virtue of the choices so they will be older or more obscure.


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I am under the impression that many people feel that the nineteenth century was (at least so far) the high water mark of great novels.

So that leads me to believe that there is a problem unrelated to technology.
If you look at other media, things seem to be getting more dumbed down all the time so while you will still get great works that have been done for their own sake, but the chances of a book getting both critical and financial success seem a lot lower nowadays.
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Old 12-06-2009, 09:53 PM   #6
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DMcCunney, it's a great question to ask: "Will e-books spell the end of great writing?" I think the answer is "no", since future generations of writers will still grow up and learn to read and write from a combo of print books and e-books, and since most people who later become real "authors" have often said in interviews that they learned to write by reading alot when they were younger, reading Great Books and reading thrillers and detective yarns, too....then since future generations of writers will have read a lot on both pbooks and ebooks, they will have learned the craft of writing and storytelling from the combo of hardbacks, paperbacks and ebooks that graced their lives when young.

Writing will change, probably, styles will change, the way of storytelling will evolve, but great writers and great storytellers will emerge always..... let's check back in 200 years and see! I am pretty sure great writing will endure, as will great storytelling, since we are by nature storytellers from way back. The stories of the future will be equally compelling I feel, although the way they are told and the media they are told in will change, sure.

From Shakespeare to Dickens to Spielberg to Gibson to Bruce Sterling to The Next Great Generation of Storytellers...... storytelling will endure, for sure!
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Old 12-06-2009, 09:58 PM   #7
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One very good comment at the UK site is worth noting here: "psikeyhackr" commented"


Quote:
"I would rather read Lois McMaster Bujold than Shakespeare and I don't understand why people think Neuromancer is so great.

If e-books affect writing it will only be temporarily while people make the transition.

The computers are all von Neumann machines which is a term we don't hear often enough. Every 12 year old should know it. Computers manipulate symbols. They do not UNDERSTAND the symbols. That is where the Artificial Intelligence business breaks down. The computer science people don't admit it because they want us to BE IN AWE of the computers.

But who decides what GREAT writing is? The Liberal Arts people are totally out of touch with evaluating Science Fiction. This goes back to C.P. Snow's TWO CULTURES business and this ain't 1959 anymore. Kids weren't walking around with von Neumann machines in their pockets in 1959. But how many of those kids can't explain what an electron is? The trouble with Shakespeare is that his stuff is out of date in relation to what is going on in the world today. You can say people don't change all you want but Shakespeare didn't have to decide whether or not to fund Stem Cell research. He wasn't worried about the global effects of Peak Oil either.

But actually some sci-fi writers from the 60s wrote stuff more relevant than Bujold. Mack Reynolds doesn't come close to her in writing ability but ignoring things he wrote about has resulted in problems we have today. Yeah, content and writing are different things. But GREAT WRITING ain't necessarily worth reading."
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Old 12-07-2009, 06:02 AM   #8
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Edit.

Last edited by dadioflex; 12-15-2010 at 06:48 PM.
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Old 12-07-2009, 06:41 AM   #9
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I have to second dadioflex - the article is a great read. I came across it from a different source, but its well writtten and informative. I was particularly interested in the Elixa program, where the findings were eerily accurate and applicable to todays digital native.
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Old 12-07-2009, 06:51 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DMcCunney View Post
How much have our perceptions of reading and writing changed now that you can craft a novel on a laptop and scroll through it on a Nintendo games console? This Christmas could be the moment when our idea of curling up with a fat novel are transformed for ever, says Tim Adams

http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2009...ntent=My+Yahoo
______
Dennis
This Christmas I'll be curling up with a fat novel. Even though that novel isn't printed on paper.

For me, nothing has changed, except the ease I can read the books I want. (We'll be going away for 2 weeks. I can read a book a day when I'm on holiday, can you imagine the car we would have to have if I had to bring the paper versions???)
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Old 12-07-2009, 06:55 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by GA Russell View Post
As I recall, in 1999 some group made a list of the twentieth century's best 100 novels, and nearly all of them were written before 1950.
I suspect that's simply because it takes a couple of generations of readers before a novel is widely accepted as being "great".
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Old 12-07-2009, 07:03 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DMcCunney View Post
How much have our perceptions of reading and writing changed now that you can craft a novel on a laptop and scroll through it on a Nintendo games console? This Christmas could be the moment when our idea of curling up with a fat novel are transformed for ever, says Tim Adams

http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2009...ntent=My+Yahoo
______
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Well, I don't think it's the ebook so much as the wholesale changes in the publishing industry. It has been going downhill somewhat for decades. The publishers are chasing the bestseller only and looking to increase the bottom line in whatever manner they can --- what this generally means is marketing whatever marginal novel they choose as "the next bestseller" and the unthinking masses follow along obligingly. The reasons for the changes have been TV, Video, Movies, Computer Games, internet/web.

It is not quite simple for anyone who thinks they are a writer (and that is mostly everyone) to spew forth any ol' tripe and post it on the web for free or for sale.

I been in a variety of discussions along these lines and have even started a few.

What we need are reliable reviews, awards and sources of information about the "good books" in order to find them and support them.
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Old 12-07-2009, 08:02 AM   #13
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The trouble with Shakespeare is that his stuff is out of date in relation to what is going on in the world today. You can say people don't change all you want but Shakespeare didn't have to decide whether or not to fund Stem Cell research. He wasn't worried about the global effects of Peak Oil either.
I'm not a writer, but there's only 7 basic plotline models that all fiction writing revolves around. The specific events, dialog style, style of prose, etc, change over the years. That's where 'popularity' comes into play. Popularity has nothing to do with 'greatness'. Just how many people are willing to read a particular title.

I think ereaders and ebooks will allow people to more easily read. I know I now read far more than I did before getting my Sony. And as time goes on, I think folks will discover the reading feature for their Ipod, Droid, PDA, or whatever portable device they own. And overall, reading for pleasure will be an increasing phenomen.

Instant publishing options for all make it easier for the novice or hobby writer to 'publish' their work. This allows lots of otherwise anonomous folk to get their thoughts out...whether folks find them is up to the author's creativity in promotion. Therefore, there are lots of books of minimal quality out there to be read. (remember the 'pulp' books produced in centuries past)

But this does not necessarily diminish what is 'great writing'. In fact, the ease of self publishing may prompt would-be writers to write MORE, honing their skills. HELPING to create that next 'great writer'.

Who knows? It's all good...more writing, more reading, more literacy......
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Old 12-07-2009, 10:12 AM   #14
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Will e-books spell the end of great writing?

Yes. They will be soley and uniformly responsible for the total destruction of the Western canon. They will terminate all writing of any merit in English or any other language, even those for which ebooks are not available.

Regards,
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Old 12-07-2009, 10:36 AM   #15
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Will e-books spell the end of great writing?

Yes. They will be soley and uniformly responsible for the total destruction of the Western canon. They will terminate all writing of any merit in English or any other language, even those for which ebooks are not available.

Regards,
Jack Tingle
Damn! I was afraid of that!
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