>What New Media Means for Me as a Reader

>I am about to make the most obvious statement ever: there is a lot of cool stuff happening on the internet.
Not a groundbreaking observation by any means, but I am ceaselessly amazed by the sheer number of new ways to participate in the world as a reader of texts. I mean this both in the literal sense (e-texts versus paper texts), and also in how we interpret those texts (and how technology influences that).

Take, for example, this article on ‘circular reading.’ This author has found a way to exploit the e-reader technology in a way that gives us stories with a circular narrative (no beginning or end). As readers of these stories, how does this sort of narrative change our interpretation of the text, and how does it change our interaction with that text? There are many books that challenge us to think of narrative form differently than a ‘beginning-to-end’ reading experience (I was fond of the ‘choose your own adventure’ book when I was a kid), and this book takes that to a new level by using a technology that isn’t bounded by a structure with a clear beginning and end.

The e-reader is especially interesting to me after I purchased a Kindle (which arrived in the mail today!) and began exploring the different texts I could fill it up with. There is a dizzying array of public domain material available for free in the Kindle Store, and right now that’s what I’m experimenting with. I’ve downloaded one free comic book, and a number of books (fiction, nonfiction, and poetry) so I can get a sense for how the different texts ‘read’ on this device. I was pleasantly surprised to find that I could read the comic fine (it just shows each page as a ‘page’ on the Kindle, like you would expect), but as a comics reader I wonder what happens when you take comics that include elements of color or ‘splash pages’ (where the narrative and imagery spans two pages). I haven’t found answers to these questions yet, but I might just download Watchmen on there to see how it changes my reading experience (and my understanding of the text).
I’m also curious about subscription services. I love having a 3G device that will automatically update my blogs and allow me to read them while on layovers at bus stops (which is when I get to read at work–can’t do it while driving!) or while at the doctor’s office without hauling my MacBook Pro along for the ride. I looked at some newspaper subscriptions, although I just can’t commit: I’m someone that reads snippets throughout the day from various sources and listens to NPR, so sitting down ‘with the paper’ isn’t a model I’ll probably adopt. Blogs, however, are a different story. I have a ‘to read’ list that’s probably about 100 posts long at any given point, so I’ll take all the help I can get!
The Kindle is interesting because you pay for a blog subscription at a price that is comparable to that of newspapers, which shows our increasing acceptance of the blog as a source for reputable information (or at least, with the potential to be such a source). Tonight, I’ve listed this blog on the Kindle Store, and it should be available for purchase in about 48 hours (I’ll share a link when it is). I’ll also be listing my other blog that I’m using for my Center for the Book final project (more on that later–but suffice to say there’s some exciting stuff in the works!)
This model of publishing is similar to someplace like Lulu.com: it’s free to sign up and to upload your material to be published, and you get a decent hunk of the royalties when it is. With the Kindle subscription, I was surprised by the fact that I wasn’t given the option to choose the price (although it’s possible that I will be able to do so after it’s ‘approved). I want to make my blog accessible to as many people as possible, so I would like to list it for free! While the jury’s still out on this, I definitely think that taking that agency away from the author has some very interesting implications. For example, how does it compare to traditional publishing models’ valuing of work? What does it say for access–if Amazon.com is choosing the price of my blog, what will that do to people who want to access the work but can’t? This is less of an issue for people who own Kindles (I assume that most people who buy them are prepared to spend 99 cents on a blog subscription), but it does raise questions for me about e-publishing at large.

Well, it’s the next day, and both blogs have been published for the Kindle. You can find this blog here, and my other blog here. I’m excited to have them on the Kindle because I want to be able to share them with as many people as possible. As I suspected, I didn’t get to choose the price: they’re each $1.99. I am actually not super happy about that price, because I wanted to give them away for free (or at least for less than $1). However, I am happy to have another way to share my work with others, and I would love to hear from Kindle users about their experiences reading my blog(s) in that format!


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