Redesigning reading

Redesigning reading

I like to tell people I’m redesigning reading. What I should probably be saying is that I’m redesigning books for how people now find themselves reading.

We read in bits, small hunks and bite size chunks of varying sizes throughout an otherwise technologys and systems dominated life. You read on the toilet. You read when you’re waiting for the dentist. You read for the 16 minutes you have on the 38 every Friday. We now live in a time of interminable and brief moments, and we read a lot different because of it.

There is a lot of griping and pitchfork raising about the death of the book and the death of reading. The thing is, we’re actually reading five times more than we used to fifty years ago. The problem is that we’re not reading long books for a couple hours at a time, sitting by a lamp in our front rooms while the world around us quietly puts itself to sleep. We read on the toilet, waiting for the dentist on the 38 every Friday. All of these moments add up and most of them are filled by news, updates and one of a thousand types of messages.

So I’m trying to put the novel, a form of literature roughly invented roughly around the end of the 1600’s, and no the irony isn’t lost on me considering the setting of The Gates of Vienna, into a new sort of shape. Yes it was invented. Someone said at one point, somewhere in some stately home, this is how those of us that actually can read, which wasn’t loads at the time mind you, will read. So lets print a bunch of paper, bind it all up and then we can sit around for a couple hours soaking in a massive story.

But that ability to soak in a story, to paddle and struggle through another world and someone else’s reality is the great thing about the novel. Its the thing that I’m in some pitiful way trying to save for the iPhone generation – the ability to be lost in story. To explore another world and think through various characters eyes. So I’m chopping it up, allowing the reader to fit a big world into their lives, and to have a laugh or while taking the 38 be lost in another time and place.