Does hypertext fiction have a ‘real’ audience?

Despite continued interest from the academy and creative writers, the question remains as to whether ‘ordinary’ readers, used to the conventions of print narratives, can enjoy hypertext fiction. Since each hypertext fiction interface is more or less idiosyncratic, readers can be discouraged by unfriendly interface designs. Radically re-structured narrative forms can also cause confusion for readers. Critical works and empirical research from literary studies and interface design provide clues towards a better understanding of the effects of hypertext fiction upon readers, and knowledge from both fields can be productively merged in empirical studies of hypertext. This article provides a methodological specification, and a summary of findings from my ongoing study of readers’ responses to a range of hypertext fictions and their interfaces. Though there are barriers to reading pleasure, these can be overcome, and there is evidence that hyper text fiction can be as engaging and enjoyable as fiction in print.

Abstract from James Pope’s A Future for Hypertext Fiction from Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies

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