TEXT AND IMAGES by Craig Mod
What is a book, anymore, anyway? 2
We will always debate:
the quality of the paper, the pixel density of the display;
the cloth used on covers, the interface for highlighting;
location by page, location by paragraph.
But really, who cares? 3
Hunting surface analogs between the printed and the digital book is a dangerous honeypot. There is a compulsion to believe the magic of a book lies in its surface.
In reality, the book worth considering consists only of relationships. Relationships between ideas and recipients. Between writer and reader. Between readers and other readers — all as writ over time.
The future book — the digital book — is no longer an immutable brick. It’s ethereal and networked, emerging publicly in fits and starts. An artifact ‘complete’ for only the briefest of moments. Shifting deliberately. Layered with our shared marginalia. And demanding engagement with the promise of community implicit in its form.
The book of the past reveals its individual experience uniquely. The book of the future reveals our collective experience uniquely.
For those of us looking to shape the future of books and publishing, where do we begin? Simply, these are our truths:
The way books are written has changed.
The canvas for books has changed.
The post-published life of a book has changed.
To think about the future of the book is to understand the links between these changes. To think about the future of the book is to think about the future of all content. So intertwined are our words and images and platforms, that to consider individual parts of the publishing process in isolation is to miss transformative connections.
These connections shaping books and publishing live in emergent systems behind the words. Between the writing and the publishing, publishing and consuming, consuming and sharing.
We have an opportunity now to shape these systems. And in doing so, to refine the relationships between authors, publishers, readers and texts.
What tools will we embed within digital artifacts to signal this shifting relationship with literature?
To surface our shared experience?
To bridge the raw pre- and post- artifact spaces that so define the future of publishing?
To build the future book?