Sunday, January 2, 2011

Experience Wanted

Hopefully this is the last blog post I have to write and transmit from my in-laws house due to my lack of an Internet connection. It was a noble, but failed experiment, and hopefully 2011 will find me once again connected to the gooey addictiveness that is the Internet. (Update: It's 11pm and I couldn't get the in-laws connection to work so I'm in my car in the back of a Panera siphoning their connection)

Another thing I hope, and fully expect, to do in 2011 as I did in 2010 is read paper bound books and watch movies in cinemas. Even though we seem to be on the precipice of a coming digital revolution, my own experiences lead me to believe these two experiences will be around longer than many may expect.

Let's start with the book reading experience. I keep meaning to get a paper copy of John Rector's excellent first novel THE GROVE because I want to compare the reading experience of the paper book to the ebook. I read the ebook when it was first offered and, while I enjoyed it, I know I missed much of it from reading on the screen. In fact, when I met John for the first time at Bouchercon in Indianapolis, I imagine I came off as a rambling baboon because I couldn’t name any real specifics from the book, I just kept talking about the experience, and my impressions, and crap like that. I'm one who has trouble remembering a lot of what I read anyway and I don’t imagine that would be lessened at all by reading electronically. If I were going to go the e-route, I think a dedicated reader like the Kindle would be my preference to lessen the distractions.

As for who will be putting out the books I may or may not be reading electronically in 2011, I still think it will be a publisher of the major (Random House, St. Martin's, etc.) or mini-major (Tyrus, Subterranean, Busted Flush, etc.). Sure a lot of upstarts will bypass the publisher and go it alone, but I read a great quote from Neil De Young, the digitil director of the Hachette Book Group about what publishers have to offer in the new frontier, and it's not what the common assumption is. The common assumption is that the only services publishers have to offer are of the vetting and polishing variety with a dash of distribution muscle. While this is all well and true, there has already been a well-spring of talent bubbling up to provide these services as well (or in many cases better than) publishers and for much less of royalty stake. But De Young says publishers will act as venture capitalist and I thought that was an absolutely perfect way of putting it. Because its one thing for an established writer with a solid backlist and an established reader base to front some cash to a designer for a cover and to a computer formatter to get it in shape for e-readers, but for a new writer, with no advance and no reader base, that seed money is harder to come by. Enter the publisher. See this parable from John Scalzi for a humorous exploration of this.

Now with movies, I've seen two movies over the last couple of days that offered different experiences. The first was Tron: Legacy which I saw in IMAX 3-D. This was a mediocre movie made cool by some nifty graphics and exploitive eighties music and this is how most people think the movie business will shake out. The common wisdom is that to compete with DVD home theaters and instant downloads, the only way to get people to the multiplex will be with experience movies.
My second movie goes against that ideal. I went to see True Grit, which offers nothing in the way of graphics or experiences that could be heightened by IMAX or 3D. But what the theater offers that home can never offer is a two hour block of time devoted just to watching that movie. This is a luxury I've been hyper aware of lately.

With a wife and two little kids at home, any time I try and watch a movie on DVD my focus is split and distractions run rampant. So I'm forced into a diet of comedies and fast cut action movies that don't suffer from a scattered viewing. A movie like True Grit though needs that solid uninterrupted block to fully be appreciated. This is why, no matter how hard I try, I haven't been able to get through The Wrestler even though I desperately want to finish it. (It also doesn't help that my wife and I have rather divergent movie tastes that don’t include movies like True Grit and The Wrestler). This is also why I haven't been able to watch many TV shows on DVD. (Here, oddly enough, my wife and I enjoy many of the same shows like Breaking Bad and Californication, but whereas I like to gorge on an entire season at once, she can only take one or two episodes at a time.)
So there you have a sliver of insight into my viewing and reading habits for the coming year. How do you, dear readers, see technology affecting your entertainment experiences in 2011?


Chris Rhatigan said...

Yeah, I'm seeing fewer and fewer movies in the theater and Netflixing it more often. But with books, I'm still basically in paper mode. I've downloaded a couple of books to my computer, but I prefer paper and have no intentions of purchasing a tablet/kindle/nook this year.

Not that I have anything against them. I'm just cheap.

Joyce said...

I never go to the theatre anymore. It's not worth the trouble. The lines, the mess, the chatter... I prefer cable and Redbox, thank you.

As far as books go, I have had 7 ebooks published, but I will not ever purchase one. Crazy, maybe, but I love the feel of a book in my hands, using my favorite bookmarks, reviewing a page or two.

I think ereaders are fine, maybe for people who are always on the go, but tell me you can't find a little bit of time to sit down with a cup of coffee or cocoa, your feet up and a book in your hands. Plus the time I spend in libraries browsing and reading too, I wouldn't trade for anything.

Sean Patrick Reardon said...

I hardly ever go to the movies for the same reasons Joyce mentioned.I prefer DVR, Netflix, On Demand.

I got a nook about six months ago and love it. I still like print books , but they are becoming a pain in the ass for a lot of reasons. I still think ebooks, for the most part are overpriced, but still cheaper than print versions most times.

I think the internet has been fabulous for both reader and writer, especially for the short story.

Kate Pilarcik ~ absolutely said...

Ah Bryon, you had me at "vetting and polishing variety with a dash of distribution muscle" ... and of course, siphoning Panera, as well as drinking it in.

REAL MOVIES ... real theatres shall always provide that get-lost transcendance. BlockBuster still provides the browse-factor NetFlix neglects goin' for the numbers in ease ... and hookin' an online experience to the bigger screen across from the couch with the lights all out can just about zing the cinematic pleasure. It's all about the journey.

Tangible, turnable pages entice timelessly. WritingSites and WebSites and DSD-cited and AT THE BIJOU (theatre for the mind of writers' raves) provide good reads in their own savouring as well. Got the NOOK last Christmas and with time opening (one of these days), I know it'll add its own niche.

Agree with that Reardon fella that internet's been good for market-opening, exposure-enhancing and writing array to authors, authors everywhere. ~ Absolutely*Kate

(remember, they said Elvis would ruin music)

Kate Pilarcik ~ absolutely said...

Hey -- You had a Jeff Bridges film fest goin' on, didn't ya? I read (magazine, tangible format) the Coen Bros assured him True Grit was based on the book and not the remake as he didn't want to be the guy who tried to step into the Duke's boots.

So, how was that one ... and did you get the urge to take the wife and kids to the Lebowski Lanes to bowl 'em over? (sorry - it was too easy) ~ Absolutely*Kate