Whenever a magazine writes an article on Christian fiction, they always ask someone at Bethany House to give an answer to this question: what is the future of the genre?
Of course, they’re looking for sensible things like which categories are seeing growth, what trends might be next, and if we’ll expand, shrink, or keep our number of titles the same in upcoming years.
But every time, I’m tempted to give them a more unexpected answer: daydreams and imaginings of what the near-distant future of book publishing might look like. Here are some of my ideas…be thinking of yours to put in the comments!
Video Features: Imagine reading along…and seeing a short video clip pop up, narrated by the main character. I can see this working really well for parts of Conspiracy of Silence (maybe a mission log from Tox or other members of his team), but it would be neat to give us a picture the settings of some historical novels as well. And every Author’s Note at the back could be the author personally giving a thank-you to people involved with the book.
Hologram Pop-up Books: I have a weakness for really beautiful pop-up books, but they haven’t really crossed over into the adult Christian fiction market (for obvious reasons). But holograms would make it easy to create a cost-effective pop-up book that could still contain a lot of text—certain scenes would just unfold before you in charming, vintage cut-paper style. Top of my list for this one would be Roseanna White’s Ladies of the Manor series. The estates and intrigue would make for some lovely, dramatic scenes, not to mention…those dresses!
Scratch-and-Sniff Books: Like those stickers you got in elementary school that smelled like bubblegum, these pages would bring a previously unexperienced dimension of the novels to life with a puff of fragrance appropriate to the scene. A soon-to-be-released book I just read that did a great job describing smells was Jocelyn Green’s The Mark of the King: “The smoky scent of cheese braided itself with the spicy steam lifting from the teacup on the desk and cinched a noose around Julianne’s empty stomach.” “A breeze whistled through the shade, stirring the smell of decomposing leaves and warm, fallen cypress needles.” “While Paris on the Seine was fragrant with café au lait, fresh bread, leather, straw, and wine, New Orleans here by the Mississippi smelled of fish, coffee, corn, bear grease, and eau-de-vie, a cheap variety of brandy.” Hmm. Maybe that’s why a scratch-and-sniff book hasn’t already been invented yet…not all smells are pleasant ones.
Treasure Hunt Books: Okay, this is an unrealistic amount of work, but I’ve always dreamed about a book with codes/puzzles embedded in it where the reader could solve a mystery in real time. Think something like geocatching, but probably through the Internet so it would be accessible to readers everywhere. Something like: the first word of every chapter leads you to a website, where you have to type in a code from a themed crossword puzzle, then call a phone number where the answering machine gives you the ISBN of an Agatha Christie novel…and so on until you reach the resolution. Although Drew and Madeline, of Julianna Deering’s mystery series, wouldn’t know what a website was, I could see the two of them headlining an interactive hunt like this, since they’re already experienced sleuths.
Even though technology and methods of reading might change, one thing will remain the same: readers will always need a good story.
What do you think the books of the future might look like? Any currently published books you’d love to see as a pop-up book or one of the other future options mentioned?