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Wednesday, April 6, 2011

RTW: Books In 2111

Road Trip Wednesday is a blog carnival, where YA Highway’s contributors and readers post a weekly writing- or reading-related question and answer it on our own blogs. You can hop from destination to destination and get everybody’s take on the topic.

This week, Road Trip Wednesday the prompt was: RTW: What do you think publishing will look like in 2111?

Thank goodness I brought my crystal ball with me today. Here’s what I see:

It’s April 6, 2111. I’m in a library, a monstrous building lined on all walls with white doors. Dozens of wide screens hang in the center, suspended from sturdy wire. They might not even have it, I tell myself. It’s been so long.

I walk up to the only empty screen and tap the center. The index page flickers on, revealing a list of buttons. I click the one labeled “Young Adult,” and a line of book covers appears on the screen. As I swipe my finger sideways over the screen, the covers fly by. Something blue flashes and I scroll back. The cover bounces and then fills half of the screen when I press it. A description, trailer, and reviews take up the other half of the screen, but I don’t pay attention to them. I type my fourteen-digit code into the space at the bottom right corner of the screen.

The screen flips off. A disk smaller than my palm pops out and I pocket it, searching for an empty room. I head to the back of the library, where most of the doors glow with a green light. Inside, I lock the door and pull my connector from my bag. The room is dim and warm, a lounge chair the only piece of furniture. I collapse into it—I’ve been tired ever since I woke up from my cryogenic sleep—and plug a wire attached to the chair into my connector. I tape the connector’s electrode to my temple and insert the disk. It whirls to a start. My eyes slip shut.

My first novel, published in 2013, plays in my mind. The electrode on my temple sends out short shocks, zapping my brain so I can smell the burning firewood, I can taste the ice cream. I watch the book like a movie, only I think what the narrator thinks. I only see what she sees. The software detects I don’t know a word—iPod, though it seems vaguely familiar—and uploads the definition to my brain.

When I’m finished, I flip the disk and watch the bonus material, a video of one of my author talks. Most books contain videos of the author speaking to the camera, but my book was written a long time ago. The bibliomakers had to scrap together whatever they could find.

Books weren’t always like this. People used to read on hard electronic tablets and before that in clunky books that took up endless space. Before that, on large unwieldy scrolls. And before all, on tablets, characters chiseled into stone.

I smile at the size of the disk and slip it into my back pocket.

And then my crystal ball goes foggy, as crystal balls tend to do. That was it.

What do you predict books will be like in 2111? (And, yeah, you can be more realistic than I was.)

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