I'm skeptical about that.
But another Singularity Event does appear to be nigh. The Book Singularity. Books will transcend their traditional physical form, and become not just different, but more than they were.
Is the Book Singularity at hand? Libroid thinks so, and has some alternatives for the hyper-book future:
Enter Libroid, which creator Neffe -- a veteran journalist for Germany's Der Spiegel magazine and author of a best-selling book on Charles Darwin -- hopes will beat its own path to success.
The program, which currently runs only on Apple's iPad tablet computer, splits the traditional book page into three columns, allowing authors space to annotate their text with footnotes, images, maps, videos and web links.
Libroid delivers the book's core text in the middle of the page. Two smaller columns on either side carry the extra content. Page numbers are abandoned in favor of a percentage bar that tells readers where they are.
Interactive elements allow readers to make their own comments on virtual book clubs that can be linked up to the text. It also offers authors the possibility of updating their own work (something that U.S. author Jonathan Franzen might appreciate after the wrong draft of his latest novel was published in the UK).
With Libroid publications also allowing readers to flit between different translations of the text, Neffe said he believes the added extras, plus a lower price tag, will set it apart from standard e-books.
Though circumspect about its chances for success, he said it does have several major selling points, not least the potential to generate a new medium for fiction writers who, he says, are already lining up to try it out.
This is standard enhanced book stuff. Okay, I'm saying "standard" even though enhanced books are far from standard yet! But this part was not new to me. However, this was:
Neffe agrees, saying although he has been bombarded by suggestions from authors, he is choosing carefully. One winning idea, he says, is the "round book."
"Round books are those with no beginning and no end. Experienced authors tell me they have problems because every linear story has centrifugal forces that try to get out from the center.
"There is a well-known author in Germany who writes crime stories. He wants to randomly mix chapters so you would be the judge in the criminal case.
"You get nine different reports from witnesses and when you shake it up, they will mix up, so you always start with different one. Every reader is having a different experience."
Nonlinear books aren't entirely new. Remember the old Choose Your Own Adventure books? Ah, the memories.
Joe Konrath has written a send-up of one of these, what he calls, "Write Your Own Damn Story" Adventure which he claims will, "push ebook technology to the boundaries of reading enjoyment, or something like that."
Much as I love 'em, these kind of books do have one drawback, which is that they break the fourth wall. That works for some stories, especially funny ones, but usually I like to immerse myself in the world of the book. I like the feeling it is all "real" on its own terms, that there is a certain way it "actually" happened.
However, the "round book" idea is different from the choose-your-story idea. The round book can still assume there was a "true" history, a "way it really happened." The illusion of fact, the fourth wall, can remain intact. All that changes are the order in which you discover them. It's as if you were given an easy option to watch Lost in either the order shown or actual chronological order, or some other order in which the events make actual sense. (And if you figure out what that is, please tell me.)