Over two thousand years have passed since the Rosetta Stone was inscribed on a piece of granodiorite; roughly one thousand years have passed since Beowulf was written; it was a mere twenty-two years ago that the first Harry Potter book revived a dying interest in literature amongst children. Today we have audio books and pop-up books, interactive reading online, and apps geared towards speed reading. What will be the next major innovation, the next tool upon which our bestsellers are crafted?
We’re curious to see how the digital age creates its inevitable impact on the act of writing. We may not be using holograms yet, but in the meantime, we’ve rounded up three of our favourite tech products that forecast a major shift in the written word.
Image via Moleskine
Moleskine is one of the names in sophisticated notebooks. The company, founded in 1997, was established to revive the standard little black notebooks used by the legendary artists and thinkers of the previous two centuries. These iconic notebooks were originally produced for over a hundred years by a small French bookbinder that supplied Parisian stationary shops. Recognizable for their rounded corners, convenient elastic closure, and expandable inner pocket, they become staples in the hands of Vincent van Gogh, Pablo Picasso, Ernest Hemingway, and Bruce Chatwin.
It was Chatwin, in fact, who first coined the term from which the company drew its name; in his book Songlines, the English travel writer lamented the closure of the original manufacturer in 1986, around which time he bought every beloved “moleskine” he could find before setting off on a journey to Australia. Eleven years later, a Milanese publisher decided to revive the tradition of the legendary Moleskine, and these notebooks have continued to serve as a fixture in the studios and offices of writers and artists.
Moleskin has taken steps to enter the technological realm with a few select products. The Moleskine Plain Paper Tablet is a crisp, standard Moleskine notebook that works in conjunction with the Pen+ smart pen and Moleskine Notes App. The paper tablet enables digital editing of tactile writing; each pen stroke in the book is replicated within the Notes App in real time on a smartphone, tablet, or computer. It functions via Ncoded paper technology, which enables the Pen+ to transfer freehand notes to a preferred device via Bluetooth. This product is the perfect solution for writers who require digital access but are easily distracted by screens; it’s also perfect for those who prefer the process of writing by hand but find transcription tedious.
Moleskine also offers a Works With program that is essentially a network of digital partners whose apps and software talk directly to the Moleskin Smart Writing System, transferring handwritten notes and sketches to other digital platforms.
Image via reMarkable
reMarkable claims to be the only digital device that actually feels like paper. Unlike other tablets, there is no social media, no email interruptions, no text alerts, not push notifications — in other words, no distractions.
The company was founded by Magnus Wanberg, a self-professed paper person who always carried armfuls of notebooks and printouts to meetings and lectures. He found himself questioning why, in the digital age, this is still a preference for so many. The answer lay in the paper itself. It is the ultimate tool for thinking, allowing a clean and blank space for focusing — a canvas for imagination and creativity. But paper also comes with limitations when it comes to portability and organization; after all, you can’t search keywords in a notebook the way you would in a Word document.
And so, in 2013, he founded reMarkable. The resulting product is a device that offers the tactile pleasure of paper (no backlight or glare!) with the convenience of digitalization. A detail we love? It converts handwritten notes to typewritten text.
Image via Qwerkywriter®
The Qwerkywriter is perfect for those with a certain nostalgia for the past, who romantically fantasize about writers hunched over their typewriters, noisily labouring over their masterpieces.
This typewriter works with iOS, Mac, Android, and Windows. Made from a scratch-resistant aluminum alloy, chosen for both its superior quality and durability, it can be connected to multiple wireless devices (via Bluetooth) simultaneously. Focus on the writing at hand either with or without a bright and distracting screen (the board features an integrated tablet stand that can support up to twelve-inch tablets, depending on their thickness). The mechanical switches are German engineered and promise unrivalled, industry leading tactile feedback and performance; this is certainly an improvement to retro keys. The keyboard is even programmed with dual function scroll knobs for volume control and page scrolling, as well as a macro programmable Return Bar that defaults to the “enter” key but can also be programmed with up to fifteen characters for copy, cut, and paste commands, etc.
Ready to write your novel?