Tuesday, November 10, 2009

E-Volution

So it's 2014, and I'm in a reading mood.

I take out my ereader. At the push of a button, I bring up several different ebook stores, and begin to browse for something to read. Several stores are having sales. One of them gives all the books away for free--the only catch is each contains ads, much like a magazine.

I peruse the free site, download the latest thriller from my favorite author, and jump into the pool, floating on a raft while I read. There's no worry; the reader is waterproof.

There's construction going on in my neighborhood, so I put in my wireless ear buds and press the SFX button. As my eyes pass over the words, I'm treated to some background music, much like a movie soundtrack. There are also ambient sounds--crashing waves during a beach scene, crickets at night, the blowing wind when the main character goes to the desert for a showdown.

An ad comes up. It's a coupon for my local pizza joint. Pizza actually sounds pretty good. I touch the screen and order a pizza, using the coupon, paying for it immediately.

Then I hit the AUDIO button and close my eyes, letting the book read to me for a while as I float around. The narrator is good--using dialects and different voices for different characters. I pause the book, and access a search engine to see what other books he's narrated. I find two that sound interesting and download them on the spot.

I go back to the book, then get an announcement that my pizza has arrived. I climb out of the pool, thank the delivery guy (I already tipped him electronically) and then go into the family room with a slice.

I sync my ereader to my TV and adjust the words to scroll down the screen as I'm eating. During a particularly exciting helicopter chase, I see an author footnote. I click on it, and the author appears in a video clip, explaining the research he did for the scene, and showing the actual helicopter in flight. Normally I wait until after I finish the ebook before I delve into the extras like commentary, footnotes, vid clips, previous drafts, etc.

I get to another ad, which I skip, and then my wife comes home and says that her favorite author is appearing at a nearby bookstore. She grabs her ereader and we head out.

We get there early. The store contains over 300,000 paper books, but they're all shelf copies, not for sale. I hang out in the thriller section, and thumb through a few paper books. I find one I want, and scan the bar code on the back with my ereader, instantly buying it.

The author arrives. We sit and watch while he does a little talk. He has some printed books for sale, and if they run out, the bookstore says it will print more while we wait.

After the presentation, he signs some ereader covers. My wife has a clear plastic cover for her ereader, and the author has a cardboard covers he signs, which slips into the plastic.* Then he gives away some exclusive content to anyone who buys the book--a deleted chapter not available online. My wife buys an ebook. She promises to lend it to me when she's done, transferring it from her reader to mine--which is how e-lending at the library works.

On the way home, I sync my ereader to the car stereo, and let it read the next chapter. Another ad comes on, for a new book by this author. I bookmark the ad. I'll either buy the book, or download the ad version, later tonight.

I go back to the pool, alternating between reading and being read to. When the book is finished, I delve into the bonus features. The author included a tie-in short story, which I love. I contact the author's website and tell him so, then spend a few minutes posting my book review on his forum. This leads to me text chatting with another one of his fans, who suggests a new author I'd never heard of.

Two clicks later, I buy this new author's latest, for $1.99.

My wife asks if I want to watch a movie. I decline. I've got more than enough here to keep me entertained.

My ereader text box opens up. It's the author, thanking me for posting a kind review. He asks me if I'd like to be a beta reader for his new thriller, which won't be released for another two months.

Hell yeah, I do. He sends it to me instantly.

Boy, do I love this thing. It's easily the best $99 I've ever spent.

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* The plastic slip cover is Boyd Morrison's idea, which is smarter than my original idea: publishers making ereader covers that look like book covers.