Aaron Cael

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Book as app

I’ve been thinking a lot about the “Book as app” idea, coming at it from the perspective of a man who regularly shouts in public “no, I don’t want to download the goddamn app, I just want to navigate the fucking website with a modicum of dignity.

So… that’d be rule number 1: the app has to have a very distinct reason to exist. Something that it does in app form that justifies the space taken on the user’s phone. This points toward a search for what essential appiness this story needs or would benefit from.

In a nutshell, an app would be:

A central way of navigating the mixed content that hovers around the central narrative, the stuff that exists in that shadow zone between promotional material and narrative extension. Also, possibly extend this to a delivery method for the actual chapters of the book should A) serialization be an attractive method and B) there’s demand to read the thing on a phone/tablet/palm-straining mid-size tricorder thingy.

It would make a bit of sense too because apps are a fairly big part of the narrative. They deliver info that drives the plot, they set the mood, they mediate interactions between characters and between various narrative threads. It’d be natural to recreate those functions in the relationship between the reader and the story.

This would also allow/require me to get rid of the notion of authoritative boundaries of the text. No official version. The scraps, cut scenes, leaked bits, side roads will have equal footing/be just as canon as the central stream of text. Sure, there will eventually be an object, a death tree chunk of novel that will be the final word for those who like a final word. But this story rewards the impulse to seek ephemera. The app is kind of a guide to that ephemera, a scrapbook for it. (This means you have to come up with a scheme for judging and recycling the bits you’re editing out. Use your scraps.)

Obviously still working out the specific functions to accomplish this. Thinking out loud, etc.

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