Armchair BEA ~ More Than Just Words


There are so many mediums that feature more than just words and enhance a story in a multitude of ways. Examples may include graphic novels and comics, audiobooks, or even multimedia novels. On this day, we will be talking about those books and formats that move beyond just the words and use other ways to experience a story. Which books stand out to you in these different formats?

I’m not a big reader of graphic novels (though I’ll dive into the occasional comic) and I have a hard time listening to audiobooks without spacing out. So, I’m going to look at this topic from a slightly different angle and ask you all for some feedback.

Way back in 1996, I wrote an essay in a college class about ebooks. The class was Autobiographical Fiction, but the teacher was fascinated by technology. Part of the class syllabus was to create a “Home” web page. Let me reiterate: It was 1996. The popular web browser back in the day was Mosaic.

Without wireless technology, books in electronic form were something of a stretch. There were a few electronic texts available for BlackBerrys and the like, but handheld personal electronics with connectivity and decent storage capacity weren’t common. Still, after building a few of my own hypertext documents, electronic texts seemed to hold a tremendous amount of potential. My mind ran wild at the thought of things like hypertext Milton or Chaucer or Shakespeare. Instead of hunting down all those references in the footnotes, how about links to them? It didn’t even occur to me that there might come a day when it would be possible to have film clips at your fingertips. How about being able to compare the text of Romeo and Juliet against the Zeffirelli film, or the Baz Luhrmann adaptation, or even Shakespeare in Love?

Today, twenty-one-year-old me would be impressed, but maybe a little disappointed too. I have an 8 oz piece of electronics that holds an entire library. If I touch a word on the screen, I can see the dictionary definition. I can add notes and highlights and even share those with other readers. You have to admit, that’s pretty darn cool. But… Links within ebook texts are still more of an exception than a rule. On the internet, we have more flexibility to create hypertexts, but within actual ebooks, we’re just not there yet.

Or am I missing out on some really great multi-media books? Will the movement to more media-rich platforms (like tablets with actual operating systems) finally bring about my full-fledged books-with-DVD-type-extras dreams?

Armchair BEA 3


9 thoughts on “Armchair BEA ~ More Than Just Words

    1. Basically, I’m all about the story, no matter what form it’s in. But I still own so many physical books, I can’t imagine life without them. They’re like old friends that have always been with me.

  1. Pingback: Armchair BEA – More Than Just Words | Cheap Thrills

  2. I think they are starting to become more interactive. I remember when the first Search for Wondla book came out, it had a technology aspect that seemed really cool, but they didn’t keep up with it. I’d love to see more ingrained in it. I know that a lot of kids series like 39 clues have websites that delve further than the books but it’s still not quite what we want yet…

  3. Awesome that you wrote an essay on ebooks back in 1996. It’s quite amazing the sort of technology we have now; I don’t think 10 years ago I would’ve imagined we’d have the sort of technology and capabilities we have when it comes to our reading (it’s also amusing that with these ebooks, we’re like one step closer to a Star Trek-esque universe xP)

    My Day 2

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