05 The End of Books – Or Books Without End?

The end of books?  Nuh uh, not in my books.



Although it was interesting to hear Adrian’s take on things in the lecture last week:  Anything non-literary is out!   Actually, this similar topic was also raised in my Communications Histories and Technologies lecture, also last week, with lecturer Rebecca believing that there’s still a substantial essence in picking up a book, opening it, trawling through it, and closing it once more when finished.  The physical properties they hold.  I definitely agree with her.

It would be sad to see the death of the book, but I feel my death will come before that of the book’s regardless.  I don’t know about you, but I’d much rather turn the page of a paperback, than swipe my finger across a tablet, simply (and poorly) simulating the real action.  I do find the eBooks fascinating, but I rarely progress past the first ‘page’, as I repeatedly swipe my finger back and forth, watching the 2-Dimensional page turn, and the words appear and disappear from one slide to the next.  Like Rebecca, I too find even the convenience and use of the bulky Melways better than that of a fiddly, GPS whose annoying, female programmed voices never give the correct, or best directions – and after all, which male takes directions from a woman?  (Rebecca wouldn’t like that).

And what of books without end?  Another frustrating concept.  But not an unfamiliar one in this day and age.  In fact, one of the New York Times’ Best Selling Series in ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’, better known for its Television Series adaptation ‘A Game of Thrones’, is possibly set for an open-ended conclusion, should author George R. R. Martin fail to complete his works before he dies.  Despite being in reportedly “robust health”, Martin, aged 64, has planned at least another 2 books in the series, speculated to take up around a whopping 1,500 pages each.  The gaps between each book has been growing rapidly larger; the gap between books 3 and 4 taking 5 years, and to book 5, a further 6 years.

With a massive fan-dom built around his series, Martin has reportedly told script-writers of the “important plot points” of the 6th and 7th epics, should he die before their completion, which seems to reflect Douglas’ points in the set reading.  Would fans feel the same were another to choose the series’ ending for them?  Or would the series be kept incomplete, for them to decide the conclusion?  How frustrating that would be.  Lucky I’m not yet a fan.


Citation:  Douglas, J. Yellowlees. The End of Books — Or Books Without End?: Reading Interactive Narratives. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2000.

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