This year’s International Festival of Authors features Marisha Pessl, author of Night Film. I haven’t read this book yet, but it’s full of creative extras, including a “Night Film Decoder” app that can be downloaded and used to scan images in the book (print or e-book) that unlock multimedia content.
I love innovative stuff like this, yet I can’t help but think, “Who has the time?” I have yet to read Chaucer, Eliot, and Waugh — I’m never going to catch up.
In an article in the National Post, Pessl said that the reading experience is sacred, and she wouldn’t want readers to be interrupted by their phones. She said the app is for “insane readers” — and we’ve all been there, haven’t we. If the Brontë sisters had broadsheet companions to their works — imagine fake missing person ads for one Heathcliff of Wuthering Heights, or stagecoach timetables and maps of roads leading far, far away from Rochester’s Thornfield — I’d have pored over every square inch.
But can there be too much of a good thing? I want to experience an interactive book to see what kind of value the extras add, and how they change the reader’s experience and understanding of the story. I think extra content certainly appeals to a wider audience — not only to those readers who love text but to those who love art and poetry and technology and surprises. In twenty years I’m sure today’s toddlers won’t be asking themselves if too much content is a bad thing; they’ll be happily picking and choosing their content as they see fit.