Since I began writing, the book has been dying. No one has time to read any more. In our busy digital lives prose needs to readjust itself to fit in. It needs to be sliced in to ever tinier sections. The blog-post. The status update. The tweet. These things have their purposes, but they do not suit fiction overly well. There will never be a great, or even satisfactory, Twitter novel.
It’s one of those common sense fallacies that flash fiction suits our modern life better. No one has time to read anymore, goes the logic, except the occaisional five minute life-gap during the daily commute. Maybe, between emails and tweets, we might read a very concentrated burst of literature.
We won’t have novels with embedded videos either. Or sound-clips. Or RSS feed streaming content. And stories won’t be interactive. Most of all, they will not be interactive. Not that people will stop trying to do these things. They make perfect sense from a marketing perspective. The customer is always right. Prose fiction, says the marketeer, must adapt itself to the whims of the customer.
No. The customer must adapt themself to the demands of prose fiction. The book is defined by the fact that it takes time, and during that time you must concentrate on what you are being told. You do not get to lapse in to the zombie state of the television viewer. You do not get to choose what happens. The book does not change, the book changes you.
The book does not have a future. It is already the thing it needs to be. Fewer people may choose to test themself against it, in which case there will be more idiots in the world. Or more people will grow their minds and consciouness through reading, and the world will be a better place.