This page contains a Flash digital edition of a book.

If you could make any kind of a digital book, what


would you tell?

Anna Gerber and Britt Iverson, co-founders of Visual Editions, put forward the case for

digital-native narratives

would it be? How would it behave? What story

magine you could make any kind of digital book. So long as you could read it on your phone. So long as it was a story you could actually read, not something you would watch. Would this digi-

tal-native story of yours connect your reader to where they are in the world? Would the story change as you travelled around the city? Would it sense how hot or cold you felt? Or how calm or stressed you are? Or would it simply remind you that you have five minutes to go before you reach the end of your story? Tese are just some of the ideas, areas, possibilities we have been

dreaming up over the last 10 months, together with Google Creative Lab, as we have been looking at the world of digital books, e-books, enhanced e-books and books as PDFs. It’s part of what we have been thinking about when asking ourselves what would happen if we tapped into some of the magical, dynamic qualities of the internet and used them to make a different kind of digital literary experience on our mobile devices. We started to think about—and we know we aren’t alone here—how so many other digital cultural experiences seem to be exploding into new formats, new ideas, new possibilities, such as what is been happening with virtual reality, film, music, not to mention the poor cultural cousin: gaming. And, quite simply, it has made us think: if literature has always powered the imagination, why should books be left behind these other digital cultural experiences? If we think of the book as a cultural, physical object, can we also

continue to inspire fresh conventions around how we think of books and bookishness in the age of the Millennials? How can we create new reading experiences on digital devices, and what kinds of stories can we read in this way?

THE PLEASURE PRINCIPLE Te result for us is Editions At Play, an experiment in creating books that cannot be printed, books that are written and designed to be read on your phone. We’ve invited some great writers to work with program- mers, developers and designers to create new formats of non-linear, dynamic literature in a bid to bring the possibilities of digital technology together with a love of literature and reading in a way that is more open than an app, and digitally native in a way a shareable PDF cannot be. We like to think of Editions At Play as a place for book lovers, tech

geeks and design freaks. A collaboration between Visual Editions and Google Creative Lab, Editions At Play will launch this December with four titles: a book that travels by Reif Larsen; a book that takes sides by Joe Dunthorne and poet Sam Riviere; a book that’s unstable by début writer Alan Trotter (all via Visual Editions); and a new book that keeps unfolding, by publishing partners Penguin Random House and London- based independent record label Lex Records. Each of the titles uses existing web technology, lives on its own URL and is designed to be read on Android and iOS browsers. Tey are a mix of engaging, funny and sad stories that, we hope, readers will find surprising and delightful. Alongside the making of these delightful launch titles, and as part of our website, we have also been asking literary lovers, tech geeks and design freaks this: if you could make any kind of digital book, what would it be? And we would like to ask you. If you could do anything. It could be highly realistic. Or highly improbable. How would this digital book of yours behave? What story would it tell? And what could it do that a physical book couldn’t possibly do? ×


Gerber and Iversen will take part in a session at FutureBook based on “the new publishing”. Email your ideas to hello@

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