We recently posted a review of The Silent History, a novel written for iPad and iPhone, so it was with interest that we read about the next-generation ebooks introduced at the London Book Fair—specifically, an interactive digital version of John Buchan’s novel The Thirty-Nine Steps. The thriller has already seen life in multiple media forms, perhaps most famously as a film adaptation by Alfred Hitchcock.
According to the article in The Guardian, publisher Faber&Faber is also releasing Arcadia, a novel inspired by quantum physics that could be read in an infinite number of ways. A print edition will follow, but the author, Iain Pears, says the story needs the flexibility that “only a digital format can provide.”
Interactive and digital fiction is not a new concept—especially to those familiar with narrative video games or experiments like the Twitter story—as authors and publishers think of new ways to tell stories, so it may be that the next generation of novels is already here. Whether they catch on remains to be seen.