I chose to adapt Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan for the learning screen. I first read this book over the summer, and since then I have re-read it several times. I really identify with the main character, Clay Jannon, an unemployed art school graduate with an interest in computer programming. He takes a job at the 24-hour bookstore and stumbles upon an ancient mystery whose origins trace back to the earliest days of printed literature. I, like Clay, am an English major with an interest in computer programming. I’m not quite sure what I want to do with my life, as he is, but I do take an interdisciplinary approach to most of the problems I encounter. Throughout the book, Clay enlists the help of a Ph.D. student in archaeology, a Googler, a special effects artist, and the owner of the bookstore–Mr. Penumbra himself. Similarly, I solve problems by drawing on a variety of disciplines, and I want to be able to utilize that skill in my career.
I am also fascinated by the novel’s handling of the transition between print and electronic media, specifically the Google book scanner. Google is actually working on a project like this in real life, and it is my dream to work for them and contribute to the digitization of all published human knowledge. Like Clay and Penumbra, I want to create a world where print and e-lit work together because I believe we can learn so much more if we combine the knowledge and historical tradition of books with the processing power of computers.
With that in mind, I aim for my adaptation to capture the adventurous spirit of the novel. I hope that people experiencing my adaptation will feel the same sense of curiosity, wonder, and excitement as I did when I read the novel.