Fiction/Non-fiction vs Narrative/Non-narrative
- A more cogent division than fiction/non-fiction is into narrative texts
(texts intended to be read as a connected sequence) and non-narrative
texts which are intended to be 'dipped into' and 'looked up'. The latter
are typically non-fiction but may include collections of short stories,
etc, while the former include many history books, most biographies and
some books of popular science like A Brief History of Time. The
relevance of this to ebooks is that - as I have argued before -
virtually all non-narrative texts in electronic format will ultimately
come to be presented as dynamic hyperlinked websites, and only narrative
texts have a viable future as self-contained 'ebooks'.
I agree that books can be classified as narrative, a type of work
that the reader will likely read from cover to cover, or non-
narrative, which the reader will likely use as a reference. Fiction
is usually narrative, However, books of short stories and poetry are
non-narrative. Frequently a reader will pick up a book of poetry and
read one favorite poem, later read another, perhaps in a different
part of the book.
Biography and history are often narrative. One exception is
"Founding Brothers" which has a chapter about each one of the
"brothers"(founders of our country). Some history, of course,
is primarily used as a reference; other is read from beginning to end.
Of course, there is a large body of non-fiction work that is rarely
read from beginning to end: programming manuals, "Yahoo Groups
for Dummies" (I haven't seen that, but give them time), etc.
I do not agree about that "virtually all non-narrative texts in
electronic format will ultimately come to be presented as dynamic
hyperlinked websites." I write technical engineering information
that I give away on my internet site and sell in the form of
downloadable e-books. The e-books have much more detail. This work is
strictly reference; only a few newcomers to the field read from start
to finish. There are links, and moving from one page to another
distant pages is faster than if the book was on-line with anything
but the fastest connections.
The advantage of the e-book format over the web page is that there is
no need to be online. Often the e-books are used by people working in
situations where they do not have easy access to the Internet: in a
factory, traveling, etc. Some people use them on a Palm Pilot. (I
read John Dean's "The Rehnquist Choice" on a Palm, while
waiting in doctor's offices, restaurants (joy of travelingand
dining--alone), etc. I could just as easily been reading a novel.
I have read both narrative and non-narrative books in e-book format,
either on my laptop or on my Palm Pilot. I can read the books
wherever I am without having to lug the books around or find an
Internet connection. Wireless "hotspots" are becoming more
common; even one of my favorite hangouts, the US Airways Club at
airports, is now a T-Mobil hotspot. However, the price is still too
high for me. Airplanes will remain, for all practicable purposes,
Internet free zones for some time in the future. Because of these
limitations, my laptop contains several gigs of technical reference
material, ready for my use anytime.
On the other hand, someone with home wireless can sit with our
laptops or PDAs in our favorite chair and read a novel directly from
the Internet. That may well be in our future.
--- In firstname.lastname@example.org, "Jon Jermey" <jonjermey@o...>
> A more cogent division than fiction/non-fiction is into narrativetexts
> (texts intended to be read as a connected sequence) and non-narrative
> texts which are intended to be 'dipped into' and 'looked up'. Thelatter
> are typically non-fiction but may include collections of shortstories,
> etc, while the former include many history books, most biographiesand
> some books of popular science like A Brief History of Time. Theultimately
> relevance of this to ebooks is that - as I have argued before -
> virtually all non-narrative texts in electronic format will
> come to be presented as dynamic hyperlinked websites, and onlynarrative
> texts have a viable future as self-contained 'ebooks'.