The Future of Books by Kyle Bean
'Reading on iPods and e-readers reminds us that however we receive it, fiction happens in our imaginations, the book is a souvenir of that experience.' Chris Meade

I've been invited by a couple of friends to join this group on Facebook. They don't know that I'm writing this field guide and I'm starting to feel a bit like it's a dirty secret.

I have good friends who write and who illustrate books. I love books, my house is packed with them, and that's after I gave away hundreds so that my second son could have a bedroom. There are bookcases in every room: I sleep over them (baskets full under the bed), bathe next to them, there are even piles of my favourite ones stacked around my feet under my desk because I can't bear to have them as far away as the bookcase behind me.

I love books but I love what's in them more; I love story in all its forms and that means the stories that have to be read from a screen too. I don't think it has to be an either/or, I don't think there has to be an end of the printed book—just more options—which means more for us to read and enjoy!

I've created this guide as part of my research for a university assignment but I'm hoping it will provide a handy place to navigate from for any readers and writers who would like to find out more about digital fiction. By clicking on the contents labels in the sidebar you'll find links to lots of online examples and information. A field guide helps you to explore a field from within the field, so what are you waiting for, start exploring!

A note about the term digital fiction: People have been struggling to come up with a satisfying term to describe the myriad of possibilities for fiction that digital technology allows. I've looked at ways of presenting fiction digitally and examples of digital work in which written prose is an integral part: these are all works that are read from a screen. I have excluded audio fiction (which is also digital but not read from a screen), games (in which the prose isn’t often integral), and poetry (although there are overlaps) because in the limitless shelving space offered to digital literature by the internet I had to draw lines somewhere!

The image above is used with permission - and if you love unusual printed books make sure you check out Kyle's forthcoming Guide for the Unlucky.