The New Media Writing Prize will be awarded at a ceremony at Bournemouth University on Wednesday, and for the first time you can vote for your favourite in the People's Choice Award. The prize, now in its third year, was founded to highlight inspiring work and to provoke discussion about the future of the written word. Crikey!
This year's shortlisted works are: Hurst, aka @KarenBarley, by Kristi Barnet (karenbarley.co.uk/), which creepily combines a Blair Witch Project type scenario with Twitter; Cityfish, by JR Carpenter (luckysoap.com/cityfish/), a beautiful short story with illustrations, photographs and maps; Jerome Fletcher's Pentimento (air.falmouth.ac.uk/digitallit/ pentimento), in which the reader must "rub out" images to reveal the story; Daniel M Goodbrey's A Duck Has an Adventure (e-merl.com/stuff/duck.html), a "choose your own adventure" story in which the reader can collect hats; Mark C Marino's Living Will (markcmarino.com/tales/livingwill.html); Katherine Norman's Window (novamara.com/window); and Stevan Zivadinovic's beautifully illustrated Hobo Lobo of Hamelin (hobolobo.net/).
The judges are looking for "good storytelling" (phew!) written specifically for reading online or on a computer, iPad, mobile phone or other hand-held device. Novels, short stories, documentaries and poems can be submitted, and can contain any number of media, such as words, images and video clips.
Genuine new media writing is produced specifically for a new media device. Michael Bhaskar, the Digital Publishing Manager at Profile Books, describes it as "a new generation of publisher-produced content that seeks to be fully social, interactive, animated, graphical, new media native and multimedia in a way which no one (OK, that means publishers) has really done before."
Black Box, by Jennifer Egan (Corsair ebook, £1.99) was first "published" this May on Twitter, via The New Yorker, with one tweet a minute appearing for an hour every evening for 10 days. According to the Independent on Sunday's reviewer, "the constraints of the 140-character form [give the finished book] its haiku-esque pithiness."
Theo Gray, the founder of the digital book publisher Touch Press and himself the author of the iPad book app The Elements, describes writing for digital media thus: "It's writing, Jim, but not as we know it." Books, he explains, have a beginning, a middle and an end; ebooks, like space, can go on forever.
It's still OK to love real books, though. The Folio Society has launched a new campaign for the Christmas gift-buying market – the first advertising campaign in its 65-year history. (See, they are keeping up to date.) The Society's aim is to produce beautiful, affordable books – including modern and classic fiction and non-fiction – that will be passed on and cherished. Its managing director Toby Hartwell says: "It's likely to be another Kindle Christmas but our ambition with this campaign is to remind everyone of the pleasure of giving and owning gorgeous books that they can really treasure."
You can find out more about the shortlisted entries and vote for your favourite at newmediawritingprize.co.uk