I saw this here, here, and here (more or less in the reverse order of that list): Japanese novelist Ryu Murakami is releasing a novel called A Singing Whale, which will apparently include video, a soundtrack, and other multimedia elements. Part of the deal is about money because under the deal, Apple gets 30% and Murakami, composer Ryuichi Sakamoto (and presumably whoever else in invovled in the production end of things) split the rest, more or less cutting the publisher out. But mostly, it isn’t about money. Here’s a smart passage from Mashable:
Although the author advises publishers to “read it and weep,” this doesn’t mark the beginning of the end for the publishing industry — at least not yet. What Murakami is releasing is not an e-book in the traditional sense, but a full multimedia experience that can’t be replicated in print. In some respects, it’s similar to Alice for the iPad, an app that brings Lewis Caroll’s beloved Alice in Wonderland to life with full-color animations and interactive features. Furthermore, the author is also still in talks with its publisher, Kodansha, about releasing a hard copy of the novel.
In other words, Murakami’s project should be hailed less as a blow against the monopoly of big publishing houses over authors and the circulation of their work, and more as a celebration of the kinds of opportunities that devices like the iPad can provide for creativity and cost-effecient distribution.
The iPad is the perfect device for this sort of thing, and without a doubt, we’re going to see more of these fusions between novelistic “words in a row” text with audio, video, games, interactivity, and who knows what else. One of the glib little comments I like to make in my writing classes is that the reason why it’s often a good idea to include an image, video, or even audio file as part of a writing project is because nowadays, you can. So it seems just obvious to me that there will be writers who want to break out of the paper confines of “the book” and take advantage of the new technologies available.
Of course, this can go too far and just turn into a gimmick that can backfire. I for one don’t need to see another 3-D film anytime soon– well, maybe the sequel to Avatar. But it’s also hard to figure out what will be a gimmick and what will be the next big thing until we try. And this is also the main reason why I for one would like to figure out what it takes to program for the iPad so I could try to make something like this.
Incidentally, I’ve never heard of this writer and I have no idea when this is going to be released, and I have a feeling that unless this gets translated into English, I’ll be limited to reading about this instead of actually reading/experiencing it.