Are E-Books Truly Different?

Mignon Fogarty (a. k. a. The Grammar Girl) makes an excellent point about being surprised by an e-book’s ending. But I wonder if the question is not “is it harder to write an e-book?” but rather “how does the format of the e-book alter the stylistic requirements?”

Storytelling techniques do depend on the medium. Storytelling in television or the movies is very different from that of the stage or the physical novel. It should be no surprise that e-books, the good ones at least, would be written differently than physical books. Of course, e-books and novels are a lot more similar than novels and television are, so the differences are likely to be more subtle, but they should still be there.

I have no profound insights here on the future direction of literature; I’m just musing on the idea that the new form will impose new storytelling techniques and structures. Also, it’s probably too early to tell what those changes would be anyway. E-books are too new, and there are likely to be radical changes in the way they are formatted as we discover how people best consume e-text.

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