That New Book Smell

Writers of the past, take heed! I’m sending this message back through time, from a world that may be difficult to understand.

Everything is different here. In my time, books are a dying breed. People don’t read books on paper; they read them on devices like this one in my hand. It’s called a Kindle, and this is one of the very first models, one of the very first digital book readers that I think was ever released, and it’s already thinner than any novel and probably about the same weight. It can store over a thousand books.

No, really.

That new book smell we all love so much? Someday it’ll be a distant memory. They’ll be turning the pages of your book with the press of a button. I know, I know — but that’s not all! Even the content of your work will have to change.

How many times have I been writing a story and wanted a character to give his watch a quick glance? It’s such an easy shortcut — the perfect, universal body language for boredom, being in a hurry-dom, I’d-rather-be-anywhere-but-here-dom. But then I realize this character doesn’t even wear a watch — and neither do I! No one does anymore, and it’s probably not a universal sign at all. I’m not sure kids even know what a wristwatch is.

Floppy disks and cassette tapes are gone too. Even music CDs and DVDs (you’ll know what those are in a few more years) are disappearing! Game cartridges? Ancient history. You can’t even use videogames as shorthand for “this character is a huge dork.” Now everyone plays games! It’s madness: everywhere, grandparents playing Wii Sports and cool people playing Fruit Ninja!

That’s the worst of all! The cellphones! Would you believe that in the future, almost every person will carry a telephone in his pocket? It’s true, and I’m sure you can see how disastrous this is for people like us. Half the plot lines from before the year 2000 would be solved with a single phone call — or a text message (yeah, don’t ask).

All I’m saying is… things change a lot, man, so you’d better get all your wristwatch-involving and cellphone-less stories out of your system soon!

And speaking of the year 2000: no, the world didn’t end, and no, we didn’t have flying cars by then. If you want flying cars, you’re going to need to set it further in the future. Like 2015, maybe. I’m sure we’ll have them by then!

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