Tom Abba from Ambient Literature is a writer and designer working with the form of digital and physical books. As part of this month’s International Literature Showcase ‘Connections’ theme – ‘Beyond the Page’ – he puts forward his case for embracing, and adapting to, digital storytelling.

The most dangerous myth about digital literature is that it’s expensive to make. That an artist or writer working with new technology has to learn to code in three languages, that experiments in new forms of storytelling are prohibitively difficult.

Here are two truths about innovation, about trying something new:


  1. You don’t need piles of cash.
  2. You don’t need to know how to code.
You do need to think, and you need to be prepared to learn, on a steep curve, as you go along.
As Molly Flatt’s superbly satirical invitation to the UK’s Futurebook conference ably illustrates, publishing presently exists in a bubble of its own making. For publishers, digital has become a distribution mechanism, designed to exploit backlists and leverage market share.
By way of contrast, artists the world over are making innovative, experimental digital storytelling that is beginning to build a cogent set of grammars and affordances. Able to think more nimbly and used to operating at the edge of ideas, creative individuals, not publishers, are making the work that is going to define a new literature. There’s a simple reason for this.

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