Literature Made Digital: Now What?

By Samantha Alsina on February 22, 2016

I look at my niece as she fiddles with her new ipad and I think to myself: Wow, times have changed. I remember being her age, going through the bookshelves and picking out my favorite  classics. I remember the feeling of holding a book in my hands, feeling absorbed in a different world, separate from reality. In some ways, things haven’t changed. That same feeling is in every human interaction with technology. We see it all the time: people walking with their headphones on, people texting during lecture, or a niece engrossed in her ipad.

The digitizing of books extends the possibilities of plugging yourself out, leaving your surroundings for a world that technology and literature has co-created. So, in some ways, my memories, are still in a sense, very real.

But Is there a Generation Gap?

Despite growing up in a world of print, I have to argue that a digitalized literary world is desirable. I’ll tell you why.

Imagine how the future of publishing and writing will look like in a decade from now. I think of how public libraries will be found online, accessible to anyone who has a simple computer or iphone. I think of how it may be easier for young writers to self publish if they can distribute their writings online for an international audience.

The future of books is unpredictable. I can look across my lectures halls today and see a multitude of students using gadgets of some sort. Already, Kindles or ipads are pervasive and popular. For the next generation, they will grow up in a world where print doesn’t exist. Our generation, however, sets the tone.

I asked some students what they thought about using kindles. Did they like it? Some said they liked holding a book for the intimacy of it. Others regarded kindles as a nuisance.

It will be interesting to see in the next upcoming decade how the industry changes or stabilizes. For those who are going into publishing, writing, or other related areas, here is one thing we should definitely consider:

 Politics & Profit Are Important Factors

Think back to the backlash received when the diary of Anne Frank was given public domain where others fought against the access of the book. Just this week, it was announced that most online versions of Anne Frank will be removed based on a US copyright law that decrees protection over a book for 95 years. Why 95? I have no clue but this controversy shows clearly the factors involved around the online circulation of books.

Although we may hate to think about it, the politics and economics of copyright, publishing, and ownership will continue to come into play. These challenges shouldn’t be ignored but thought through as they come.

The process of digitizing literature inevitably raises some questions. Who will have access to electronic literature? How can writers take advantage of literature being digitalized? Which texts should be electronically given public domain?

By Samantha Alsina

Uloop Writer
I'm a junior at UC Santa Cruz pursuing a degree in Literature with a concentration in Creative Writing. I enjoy writing on intersecting issues including politics, entertainment, and art. When I am not writing articles and critical essays, I dally in poetry and short fiction. I hope to work in publishing one day.

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