Product: Book
Sudden Death Book   (+6)  [vote for, against]
Spice up that literature!

I love to read, however I can't seem to get comfortable reading on a screen for some reason, so I'll likely be stuck with paper for the years to come.

While paper books have some great aspects such as easy annotation and "book smell", one thing has oftentimes bothered me in my literary indulgences: the fact that the turned pages of a book are much like a progress bar on a computer... They tell you how close you are to the end!

This may be a useful thing if you're wading through a textbook, and trying to organize your time so as to study the book's material. However, in the case of a novel, particularly one with some element of suspense, the knowledge that the story may end precipitously at any time would add a definite edge-of-the-seat sensation to an otherwise more predictable reading experience.

One could implement this idea by various means. For instance, add bogus pages in the end, so the reader which - in a moment of weakness - flicked through the remainder of the book, couldn't see where it ends. This may be a bit complicated, since those pages would have to fool the reader at least at first sight as being part of the story.

Perhaps it would be easier (albeit slightly more uncomfortable for the reader) to jumble up the order of the chapters, indicating the starting page number of each chapter at the end of the preceding one. Any normally constituted person would probably not be able to keep track of the reading progress.
-- placid_turmoil, Jan 29 2007

One Page Novel Idea One Page Novel Idea
Prior art - same problem, different solution. [zen_tom, Jan 29 2007]

//add bogus pages in the end//

My brother was telling me about a book that does exactly that. It was some kind of theoretical mathematics book which, like some of Plato's work, had two characters discussing a particular puzzlement in depth. Near the middle of the book they discuss your point, how you always know when the book is going to end with a big climax, and you know exactly what is coming. They discuss the neccessity to include fake pages that were nevertheless likely enough to be in the last portion of the book.

Or at least along those lines, he *was* telling me in the pub. [Tommy?]
-- theleopard, Jan 29 2007

Yes. Needless to say, this topic is discussed elsewhere (both in the book I was waxing lyrical on) and here in the bakery.
-- zen_tom, Jan 29 2007

So two characters in a theoretical mathematics book had the idea before me... Happens to me all the time! :-P (Do you have a reference?)

I'm not sure I understand your argument that it's the same as the One Page Novel though, [zen_tom].
-- placid_turmoil, Jan 29 2007

//Do you have a reference?// Yes - not only a reference, but a reccomendation; Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid, by Douglas R. Hofstadter.
-- zen_tom, Jan 29 2007

Computer books with a scroll bar will have the same problem, so some interface will be needed to prevent front-to-back measurement.
-- phundug, Jan 29 2007

//Prior art - same problem, different solution. // Sorry to nitpick, but it's hardly the same problem. In this case I'm suggesting ways to end *any* book unexpectedly. The one page novel is a rather special type of book that doesn't exhibit this problem because of its circular (and probably confusing) storyline.

Thanks for the recommendation!
-- placid_turmoil, Jan 29 2007

Could the problem be alleviated by subtitling all books as "Vol 1 of the Epic trilogy" (well, apart from if they are Volumes 2 or 3 of an epic trilogy, in which case they'd have to be subtitled as 'Volumes 2 & 3 of a Classic Series in Four Exciting Episodes'), then you'd never know whether you were getting close to the end or not.
-- DrBob, Jan 30 2007

//Sorry to nitpick, but it's hardly the same problem.// I was going to nitpick your nitpick, but it turns out, you're right. The problem here is, "How do you avoid external cues (i.e. the physicality of a book) from seeping into the realm of the narrative." - I just reread [FarmerJohn]'s idea - and you're quite right - it is a different problem entirely! I think I must have been swayed by [beauxeault] and [snarfguy]'s early annotations on the idea.
-- zen_tom, Jan 30 2007

//external queues// ??? - are they waiting to get in? (or did you mean "cues"?)
-- hippo, Jan 30 2007

Yes, for example, it can be difficult to determine whether a windowless fish-and-chip shop is full or not, without taking stock of any external queues that might be snaking down the street. (Providing an observer with the information that an order for a chip and cheese bap at this particular establishment might take a little longer than usual)
-- zen_tom, Jan 30 2007

The book should be cylindrical, with the binding in the center.
-- bungston, Jan 30 2007

random, halfbakery