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?