... we are in the midst of a mighty recasting of literary forms, a melting down in which many of the opposites in which we have been used to ... may lose their force.
~ Walter Benjamin ~

Zealots foolishly proclaim that the book is dead, and utopians and dystopians croon and keen over the futures their fantasies allow them. My own view is that we can expect no simple changes, that changes will bring both costs and benefits, loss and gain, and that those of us fortunate enough to live in such exciting times will be put on our mettle to find ways to adapt technologies to our lives and our lives to technologies.
~ James J. O'Donnell ~
The truth seems to be that the novel, as we know it, is changing, has changed, and will forever remain changed. Gone are the days of holding the story in your hands while you slip into the reality created for you by the author and his characters. Perhaps this prediction is a bit pessimistic, but the inevitable decline of the importance of the printed version of a work can be read in the suppositions of modern literary theorists. Barthes calls for the death of the author, Coover predicts the end of books, and Landow, among others, is espousing the replacement of the authority of the author by the reader. The hypertext novel, foreshadowed by the nonlinear works of Calvino, Robbe-Grillet, and Borges, is on the frontier of development. Due to the change, the reader is faced with the potential of losing his passive role as one who absorbs literature into one who must maneuver his way through a spider web of possibilities; even then, he may never find the dénouement that has characterized carefully crafted stories for centuries. Frustration may very well be the outcome of such an encounter. The writers, theorists, and proponents of change have used the reader as a pawn in the development of how they see hyper textual literature evolving; however, with a few exceptions, progress of the new literary form has been the inventor's focus, while the reader has been part of the theory in name only. The time has come to ask the question: can the advantages of hypertext and hyperlinked work outweigh the loss of readership that may occur?
It is my belief that, while hypertext novels will grow in popularity, many readers will be disillusioned by the format and cling to the linear, tactile version of the printed book. Call it nostalgia.