David Farland Predicts That the Release of the iPad 3 in 2012 Will Spell the End of Reading as We Know it Within 3 Years

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Emerging Technologies are Destined to Begin to Revolutionize the Way We Read. Few People Have Caught the Vision of How Enhanced Books Are About to Change Our Lives. David Farland shares his view of what is about to happen to reading.

Nightingale is an example of one of the first enhanced novels

Nightingale by David Farland an enhanced novel

This is a first step toward creating a more-engaging form of novel, the kind that kids who are reluctant readers might devour.

In the last quarter of 2012, Apple will release the iPad 3, though the name is not certain for it, it will allow projection in 3D. Meanwhile, Vuzix Corporation already markets 3D virtual reality goggles that look like sunglasses with high quality earphones, now used for games. The glasses user sees the world as though they are looking out dark sunglasses with a six-foot TV screen superimposed on them that appears to be nine-feet away. There's no reason this technology can't be used with the iPad as well.

David Farland, co-founder of East India Publishing, established their company on the vision of what enhanced novels will be like in the near future.

Imagine that a person put on their “reading glasses.” The glasses are dark, fitted with lasers and high-quality stereo earbuds, so that as they are put on, the entire field of vision is captured. A laser inside the glasses flashes a novel title on the interior surface of the eye.

The letters start small, off in the distance and they quickly draw closer to the viewer, but they don't stop, they wash right over the beholder and just when it seems they're all around, they explode in a burst of light, “Nightingale, by David Farland.” A person can hardly imagine what life was like before 3D. As soon as they read the last word, a laser with a computer link that tracks eye movement cues the background music, and images begin to flash upon the screen—a short video-clip of the character of Bron, as an infant, being abandoned outside the door of a cheap hotel in the Utah desert. The camera pans up to the face of his mother, Sommer, bitter and broken, with tears in her eyes. We flash to the prologue, where Sommer runs through a forest at night, her breathing deep, while dogs snarl and bark as they give pursuit. Fireflies rise up around her.

Words to the novel appear on screen, as background music continues, and the viewer begins to read. As Sommer twists her foot and falls, the lasers pace the reading and insert a sound-effect—the thud of a body falling, the hiss of breath knocked from Sommer’s throat. The dogs bay more excitedly. A man’s heavy footsteps can be heard tromping through the brush behind the reader, and a startled mewling cry escapes Sommer’s throat. . . .

Welcome to the future of reading, where text and images and sounds come in a collage. That’s the vision that David Farland, bestselling author and co-founder of East India Press, has for the future.

“The technology to do this already exists,” David points out. “The use of heads-up displays in fighter jets was pioneered in the 1960s, and that technology is going public. Though readers now are using the iPad2 and the Kindle Fire, I’m looking forward to the devices we’ll have five years from now, or ten years.”

How can reading technology be better than with current books?

“We don’t want to replace reading,” Farland contends. “We don’t want to make movies. Reading often engages the audience’s imagination in ways that movies fail to. We want to keep it that way. We want the reader to be a partner with us in bringing a tale to life. At the same time, we hope to ‘enhance,’ the story, help readers become more fully involved with it, yet keep budgets to a reasonable price. With film clips, animations, illustrations, background music, and sound effects, we can create something that fuses a lot of storytelling tools.”

Creating e-books has become cheap and easy, he points out. This year, it is estimated that three million people will be putting their own e-books up for sale. That’s a staggering number. “If you spend twelve hours a day just examining those titles, and spend only ten seconds studying each e-book put up this year, you wouldn’t be able to glance at even 1/100th of all the books that will be published—much less read one!” Farland points out.

Readers are being deluged, often with books that aren’t any good. “Most of those books, unfortunately,” Farland points out, “wouldn’t have made it past an editor. The author just wasn’t ready. Sure, there will be a few diamonds among all of that coal, but no editor will have time to sort through it.”

Farland knows about sorting through manuscripts. For nearly a decade he was the first judge for one of the world’s largest writing contests. He was once asked by a major publisher to help pick a book to give the “big publicity push to” for the next year. He surveyed their stock and selected a book that the marketers thought was “too-long” for its intended audience. He urged them to push it despite the book’s apparent problems, even though, he pointed out, the novel was written at a grade-level too high for its intended audience. The novel? It was called Harry Potter.

“Even though authors can publish their own works,” Farland points out, “we’re going to need editors in the future who understand how to green-light a novel, who can recognize what will please an audience. But once a work is selected, the editor will take the role of a producer—assembling a creative team of composers, musicians, illustrators, animators, directors, sound-effects engineers, and so on.”

Distributing enhanced books won’t be expensive. After all, it will be done electronically. There are no copies to print, ship, or store. But creating them will be expensive and time-consuming.

Still, it will be a lot less expensive than making a movie. “To create a really great movie with a lot of special effects,” Farland points out, “can cost hundreds of millions of dollars, and it will only give the viewer an hour or two of entertainment. But by meshing technologies, we can create a similar experience with novels, spending perhaps only a hundred thousand or two—and it will give a reading experience that might last for twenty or thirty hours or more! Novels have a unique ability to let us get into deep penetration into the minds and emotions of a character, much more so than with a film. I’m excited about the possibilities.”

In fact, Farland, who is an award-winning New York Times bestseller in his own right, became so excited by that with his next novel, he decided to start his own publishing company for enhanced novels. “I had what I considered to be the best agency in New York ask to take this novel to major publishers, but I turned them down,” Farland says. “It’s the first young adult novel I’ve written, outside of a little work with Star Wars and the Mummy. I knew it could be a hit, but I wanted to do something . . . unique with it.” Farland, who has trained dozens of other #1 international bestsellers, people like Brandon Sanderson and Stephenie Meyer, has an uncanny ability to spot “good.”

Now that it’s done, Farland says, “This is a first step toward creating a more-engaging form of novel, the kind that kids who are reluctant readers might devour. I’m looking forward to see what we can do ten or twenty years from now.”

Dave’s enhanced novel tells the story of a young man, abandoned at birth, rejected from foster home after foster home. People see that he’s brilliant and talented, but also “strange.” He’s the ultimate loner until he meets Olivia, a marvelously gifted teacher, who recognizes that Bron is something special, something that her people call a “Nightingale,” a creature not quite human.

And how is it being received? The first reviewer said of it: “I devoured the novel. It was absolutely incredible! . . . I struggled to explain just how much I enjoyed it in my review. . . . After reading Nightingale, I don't think I will even be able to go back to reading regular e-books again. Like it says in my review, reading the enhanced Nightingale felt like an ‘experience.’ It didn't feel quite like a book or a movie. It initiated all of my senses. . . . enhanced ebooks are actually a real deal.”

East India Press has created a new web simulation technology that mimics how the book appears on the iPad, so you can see and hear it for yourself on any web connected computer at http://www.nightingalenovel.com.

David Farland is a New York Times Bestselling author of over fifty novels, a former writing professor, has worked as a top game designer and movie producer. He has his finger on the pulse of entertainment creation. He can be reached at davidfarland.com.

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