Last night, I was arguing with a good friend of mine about the nature of the internet. He contends that there is something inherently wrong with a model of information in which advertisements pay for content. He sees a deep and problematic flaw with the fact that so many blogs, forums, online newspapers and – most of all – social networking sites are supported almost entirely by ads that use our information to try to sell us things.
I mention this only because this is a trap that Find Me I’m Yours could have fallen into. It could have been a big ol’ scam, in which the money-making ads on all the various websites, navigating by everyone reading the book, would put more dimes in the publisher’s and author’s pocket than the book itself.
But this is not the case. Find Me I’m You’rs is brilliant because it is opening up a new model and starting what is basically an entirely new medium that utilizes existing platforms in a way that I found incredibly gratifying.
I’m not an e-book person. I like the feel of pages between my fingers, the smell of dust between the pages, holding a hard or soft cover between my hands. I love the tactile book.
But I also love the internet. I am on it all day, every day, for my various jobs. I read articles online, I chat to my friends online, I handle my invoices and my money and my social calendar online. It is an essential part of my life that blends in with everything else I’m doing in the non-digital world. With phones and things, the two are seamlessly intertwined, and I am one of those people who don’t really have a problem with that.
What Hillary Carlip does so well is understand that this is how the majority of privileged Americans spend their days, scrolling screens while conversing with their mouths to people right beside them, reading articles online and eating food they just cooked over their gas stoves, marrying the digital and the daily realities together.
But that’s not all – she also sees the potential for what e-books could and really should be. They should not be books in the same sense as the ones we buy bound and printed. Print books are one kind of medium, and while they can b translated to screens, they lose something because of their originally tactile nature. However, an e-book like Carlip’s could never exist in print book form, and shouldn’t even attempt to be translated into it. The whole point of reading it is being able to switch over quickly between the pages of the book to the online web-pages created specifically to create a world for the main character, from a blog to a dating website to a PG-13 pin-up model’s website. Trying to make a print book of Find Me I’m Yours would turn it into a pretentious postmodernist meta-novel instead of what it is as an e-book – which is a wildly funny, interactive and immursive piece of fiction.
Instead of the ads that could be running on all those websites, Carlip does something different – she has embedded merch that is specific to the game/book the reader is participating in, and if I weren’t in about the same financial situation as the main character is, I don’t doubt I would be hitting up some of those options in order to get myself fully in the spirit of the thing. And why not? Pamela, one of the oldest novels, had merchandise galore, but no advertisements. That is how it should be. Support the story, not a random bunch of corporations gunning for your info.
Several fully opposable thumbs up, Hillary Carlip, and a few paws raised as well. Readers: read this. Readers who are also gamers will especially enjoy it due to the gamified aspect of the whole thing.