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Alan Trotter’s "All This Rotting" Features Text Which Decays as You Read It

all this rottingEditions at Play is an ongoing partnership between Google and print book designers Visual Editions which seeks to invent the future of ebooks as websites. The first couple titles were released in February, and the fourth title was published this week.

All This Rotting is a piece of experimental digital literature by Alan Trotter. According to the description, this short story is "an unstable story about an unstable mind. It is a story about deaths: one sudden and violent, one slow and incremental."

While All This Rotting might not sound different from many other short stories found in ebookstores and on sites like Wattpad, this title follows in the tradition of Alice in Wonderland in using the layout of the text to help tell the story (see page seventeen pf this PDF for an example of what I mean).

In this case, the text of the story starts to fade away, get jumbled up, and generally get more illegible as you spend more time reading the story.

The effect is difficult to document (it’s not visible in all web browsers) but it looks something like these screenshots:

all this rotting

The title is free to buy in Google Play Books.  It is a relatively short read, and I believe it’s worth your time. The disappearing text adds to the story in a way that is difficult to describe, but is worth experiencing first-hand.

P.S. Speaking of experimental digital literature, if you want to learn more about the concept then you should check out the Electronic Literature Organization. I only just came across the ELO today in the process of researching this post, but from what I have seen this organization has the same goal as Editions at Play only without the mistaken need to label all of the experiments as ebooks.


If you want to find new ways of telling stories, ELO looks like a good place to start. Are you familiar with the site?

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Chris Meadows April 21, 2016 um 4:11 pm

Cute idea, but they’re about 24 years behind the times.

Nate Hoffelder April 21, 2016 um 5:15 pm

Well, yes, everything has been done before. But I still thought this was pretty cool.

And heck, I had to say something nice about at least one of these works.

Visual Editions to Release Two Editions At Play Titles Next Spring | The Digital Reader April 13, 2017 um 6:42 pm

[…] Earlier this year the book design firm Visual Editions launched a new program to "reinvent the book". This program, Editions At Play, was developed in partnership with Google, and so far it consists of four titles which were released in February and April. […]

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