preservation and persistence of the changing book


mission“to investigate the evolution of intellectual discourse as it shifts from printed pages to networked screens”

FotB mission – to investigate the evolution of intellectual discourse as it shifts from networked screens to printed pages

The consequence of the digital revolution for the future of the print book and the special new relations between screen based access to print books and screen based conversations about print reading is a different topic than contests in the technologies of text transmission.

digital print

“Consumer-level print-on-demand, as exemplified by the Espresso, is
a hybrid of P and E that brings the availability advantages of an e-book to the form factor of a paper book. It it means that people who prefer not to read on a screen need not be left entirely out of the digital revolution.”

And so the “form factor” is in play for regressives who do not “prefer” screen reading but also wish not to be “left out entirely” from the digital revolution. Well let’s see if there may not be exclusive attributes of print, decisive reading behaviors based in print, and some momentum of print into the digital future.

the voice of type

“If ‘the tone of voice’ of a typeface does not count, then nothing counts that distinguishes man from the other animals. The twinkle that softens a rebuke; the scorn that can lurk under civility; the martyr’s super-logic and the child’s intuition; the fact that a fragment of moss can pull back into the memory a whole forest; these are the proofs that there is reality in the imponderable, and that not only notation but connotation is part of the proper study of mankind. The best part of typographic wisdom lies in this study of connotation, the suitability of form to content.”
Beatrice Warde, The Monotype Recorder, spring 1933.

And so how dilute is the default text of an RSS reader or how unreadable is an endless browser line length? How ephemeral is the screen or how illegible switched off?

fast food

“Ironically, my research suggests that one of the chief values of print library research is its poor indexing. Poor indexingóindexing by titles and authors, primarily within journalsólikely had the unintended consequence of actually helping the integration of science and scholarship. By drawing researchers into a wider array of articles, print browsing and perusal may have facilitated broader comparisons and scholarship.”
James Evans

As with “fast food”, the implication with screen based research is not only that the content is served quickly, but that the user is encouraged to consume quickly as well. Print libraries engender much slower research with citations and text persistent over centuries. Across the career of the researcher, any reference can be re-examined in wider or newer context with assurance and the pace of discovery is not time graded. Print research compares with “slow food”.

As with fast food or slow, the p-book and e-book modes each provide a different experience and there are exclusive attributes and limitations of each. A lively interaction of the two modes is in motion. The surge of advance and use of screen based reading confirms its complementary fulfillment of print and a surge and advance of print confirms its new dependence on digital technologies.

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