preservation and persistence of the changing book

Archive for December, 2011



Issue 14 of the Climate Notebook Newsletter, IPI, presents many important determinants of preservation environment. These summarized are (1) that thermal equilibration is fast and moisture equilibration slow, (2) moisture buffering is (inevitably) multilayered, and (3) the outdoor seasons and their indoor suppressions tyrannize storage conditions. Result of these givens is (1) that thermal shock suppressions are difficult (i.e. from heating or air conditioning failure) and any resulting condensation or desiccation can’t be avoided and is moderated only via collection commodity resilience, (2) moisture shock, on the other hand, is more easily buffered and frequently multiplied by layers of defense, (3) inevitable seasonal drift should be accommodated and not excessively opposed by energy driven indoor compensation (the collections will follow the longer term seasonal drift and have throughout their history).

Another sequence of considerations follows along with the factors described in the IPI Newsletter. This regards preservation monitoring generally and a wider range of preservation data that can be correlated. I suggested this possibility of a wider data “cloud” in the last PADG Mid-winter meeting (Environmental Monitoring Inside-Out). Such streams include data from alkalizing and possible reversion, moisture aspiration of collections, long term baseline performance of buildings, data from item repairs and data from environmental incidents and disasters. These different streams of data have something to tell each other. Such wider interrelation of data streams could converge with the evident movement away from simplistic “straight” line prescription for optimal collection storage conditions.

above the fold

“Throughout December, customers purchased well over 1 million Kindle devices per week.” (via TeleRead)

If personal computers enabled word processing, then book reading devices will enable remote and mobile library service. Connectivity advanced functionality of all screen display, but word processing and remote and mobile library service will remain authentic extensions of traditional writing and reading.

That could be the end of the story, but it isn’t. There may still be a wide scope for consequences. Yet to be transacted are intersections, interplay and interdependence of writing and word processing and reading and remote and mobile libraries

lightning content group

“We are at a very early stage in imagining the future of the book.” David “Skip” Prichard, President and CEO of Ingram Content Group, about the future of books and the opportunities for the book industry (via TeleRead)

No trade fluff here; this a a magnificent profile of book production prospects. Ingram is the force behind the curtain for Amazon fulfillment and integration of print and screen book production.

foreseeable future

“There’s been a significant shift online because of the sales tax savings,” he said. “Consumers see it as instant discount and most online retailers are delivering for free. That puts Sears and other land-based retailers at a significant disadvantage for the foreseeable future.” (Sears and Kmart close stores) CNN

We are still building malls here in Iowa. Such momentum will well overshoot the reversal to on-line shopping with a 15% advance in on-line sales this holiday period over last. Foreseeable mall vacancies will only add to the malaise of suburban living. Unlit and vacant, huge mall parking lots separate people.

Re-congregation into closer proximity is a strategy advanced in a book by David Owen; Green Metropolis, why Living Smaller, Living Closer, and Driving Less Are the Keys to Sustainability. Shopping proximity and walk able neighborhoods are also exemplified in Iowa. Classical small – not mall – downtowns provide experiences that make shopping a communal activity.

These small town downtowns are also havens for independent bookstores. It could be that libraries and bookstores are useful identifiers of sustainable enclaves. The oddity of walking to a point of connectivity is itself an indicator of how disconnected we have become.


“Yes, Kobo is apparently sabotaging publishers’ epubs by including their own css and a javascript file and forcing the use of their (horrible on any reader other than a kobo, as you discovered) styles rather than the original ones. The resulting files are no longer valid epub files in addition to the various other problems since these added files are “hidden” (not referenced in the content.ofp file).”

Storage and display are fused together in a paper book. Screen books, on the other hand, disengage persistence and display. This unlinking compounds delivery scenarios, disrupts editorial control, disturbs typographic refinement and multiplies the separated display and storage costs. Legibility is negotiable.

Many annoyances and frustrations with e-books derive from this disengagement. Proofing is defaulted to the crowd since reflexive correcting between separated served and displayed representations is too problematic. Proof reading is shifted from up-stream in traditional print, to way down-stream. Meanwhile multiple storage formats are variously incompatible with various display devices.

native and immigrants

“Digital Natives are those who grew up with digital technology from birth, whereas digital Immigrants are those who were already socialized in pre-digital ways when digital technology arrived on the scene.” Introduction to an exhibit on digital libraries, University of Iowa.

Set aside that all socialization is now supported by digital technology, the stated distinction of natives and immigrants can be revised. Culturally the natives are intruded upon while immigrants intrude. This semantic revision also has a bit of charm in context with interplay of paper and screen books and print and on-line libraries. Whatever the intrusive digital revolution will displace of the culture of the paper book there may still remain some useful lessons from the aborigines.

One outcome of two-way exchange could be the dawning of a fundamental interdependence of the paper and screen book. As each reveals exclusive affordances a reflexive force of definition will emerge to more responsibly allocate roles for research and transmission. Such an epiphany of shared print and screen delivery modes and shared function of embodied and disembodied content can define the post-digital library and the larger future of the book.

breaking the page

“I’m thrilled to announce the release of the “preview edition” of Breaking the Page: Transforming Books and the Reading Experience (iBookstore, Amazon, O’Reilly). In this free download, I tackle one big-ticket question: how do we make digital books as satisfying as their print predecessors?” Peter Meyers

Peter Meyers (graduate of U of Iowa Writer’s Workshop) has a free sampler of his book Breaking the Page. He begins with consideration of an alternative title; Breaking the Book but he should also consider Hamady’s Breaking the Binding. The Meyer exposition investigates inherent screen format for books and how it will differ and not mimic the paper book.

The Page has become a cross-over topic in study of the comparison of screen and paper books, most recently with Mak’s book How the Page Matters or long ago in Keith Smith’s “punctuation of the page” of 1989, Text in the Book Format.

The Meyer book is excellent even if I was forced to read it on Kindle. Particularly fine are descriptions of attributes of the paper book. Three reading behaviors of browsing, navigation and search are defined that highlight the refinements of print.

Meyer then studies, surveys and proposes attributes of the screen book that could fulfill reader needs. Appraising the state of ebook delivery, he maps the opportunities for a more native, efficient, and satisfying screen book browsing, navigation and searching. I particularly appreciate his definition of distraction as a reading impediment. This is going to be a standard text for book futurists.

Futurist insights could be enriched by a larger book studies perspective. Peter does request information on development of the Table of Contents. This topic alone can advance both forward and backward into fundamental issues of reader prompted parsing.


I’m also thrilled to announce the release of the “preview edition” of The Future of the Book: A Way Forward, Iowa Book Works, 2011. A useful evaluation of implications of dual – screen and paper – book delivery, this zany, and informative publication is readable.

Just $10 plus $3 shipping. Send no money. Your mailing address will trigger the order with invoice to follow with delivery. Pay only if dumbfounded. iowa.book.works(at)mchsi(dot)com


A margin or perimeter of encounters of real and virtual is suggested by prohibition of cell phone use or other distractive connectivites while driving or performing surgeries. The two worlds are colliding and the overlaps can be destructive. Meanwhile, The Higgs Boson so called “God” particle has been purported to have been discovered just prior to the Christmas holidays by scientists at the CERN Large Hadron Collider (LHC). Here as well, theoretic vies with observable. This sounds like such a fundamental confrontation that it must be timeless.


There is something of a mirror between popularizations of ebooks and print-on-demand books. Both started in enclaves of simulation of each other; ebooks mimic the paper book experience and print-on-demand needs digital technology and electronic files. Their mutual rise in popularity also has similarity; both went through fragmented implementation and commercialization now being overcome.

Both ebooks and print-on-demand also have plenty of room for growth and new marketeering. I am just back from the International Spanish language Book Fair, it is obvious that this print dominated market will itself support explosive development for both screen and paper book innovation.

Another suggestion is a possible (charmed?) 50-50 split in paper and screen delivery for books going forward. This would further suggest an inherent interdependence of the two delivery systems and an inherent integration of the book publishing industry overall.


“There is a natural limit to the growth of digital. I think it might be 50%. The book as an object is a perfect object. It has a lot of utility. People love it. There is something about a book. We’re going to see again a doubling of our growth over the next few years, to 40% or more. But once we reach a plateau, we’re going to have two businesses: a digital business and a physical business.” Jeremy Greenfield

This would be an almost charmed outcome for the premise of the interdependence of the print and screen book.

bookbinding models

Ever since the web police revamped the binding model collection it has been almost impossible to find it. But it is still there. Now all we need is an up-date to match the current collection; now twice as large.


“How does this fit into bike shop news? Most directly, I (Cody) recently began the certificate program at the Center and spend my days madly dashing between bikes and books. Less directly, there is a deep rooted connection between the authentic experiences of riding a bike and reading a book, between the technologies of self-propulsion and analog information dissemination.” 30th Century Bicycle


The ebook revolution was not consumer driven, it was industry driven. There was no inherent market for screen books. Among industry calculations was an intention to provide a shopping device. The book reading simulation is something of a decoy.

Only now are consumer laments emerging. Black electrophoric e-ink and button navigation did provide a reasonable simulation of book reading. Industry agendas are now moving away from book dedication toward multifunction entertainment. The color phosphor screen and touch screen navigation is the path of least resistance of a large installed base. Color e-ink development has faded.

The lament is among dedicated book readers over the eclipse of the dedicated black device. The ebook revolution continues to be industry, not consumer driven. Consumers read on their phones.

real future

Digital technologies have advanced the paper book as much as the networked screen book. Advances in the physical book include new book papers, inks, adhesives and covering materials made possible with digital automation of manufacturing. As significant, competition presented by screen books has prompted identification and accentuation of exclusive paper book attributes. Some of these attributes are constraints difficult for screen book advocate appreciation. For example each paper book conveys only a single title. This obvious limitation has, never the less, enabled organization, reorganization and visualization of libraries, engendered an economic base for publishing, and validated academic and literary achievement.

Another seeming limitation of the physical book is its fuse together of the storage and display functions. This integration, so disordered with the screen book, has long proven a sustainable and cheap assurance for cultural transmission. Screen books decouple storage and display breeding multiple, uncertain and recurring costs.

Another positive outcome of competition of the screen book has been focus on the future of the paper book. The paper book has not rolled over and played dead. There has been functional clarification of its roles. While displaced from some reference genres, the paper book has accentuated its role in academic monograph as print on demand has extended its reach. Illustrated books for sciences and arts have advanced as they benefit from digital pre-press design and editing. Partextual features refined for paper magazines, newspapers, journals and books have proven variously difficult or impractical to migrate to the screen. These amenities of reader expectations have prompted major reinventions for the screen including, for example, touch-screen navigations. But at the same time print has an advantage of a highly refined “installed base” of book paratext including such almost invisible fundamentals as pagination, recto/verso duplex, and efficient two page spreads.

Digital technologies have advanced the paper book as much as the networked screen book.


hasta lo que viene

“The book in Spanish is the second largest publishing market in the world and one of the most dynamic in translations. Each year, FIL Guadalajara brings together the most important book-publishing offer in this language through 1,900 participating publishing houses from 40 countries.” FIL

I am just back from the International Book Fair in Guadalajara. This is an annual exposition of Spanish language publishers. This entire publishing sector is still print based. Various factors other than outright conservatism are at work.

As regards infrastructure agility electrostatic printing is growing and extending the reach of printing in general. This print-on-demand is extending to retail installations with Espresso and similar gear. Here the Hispanic world is different as banks, corporations and restaurant chains are significant publishers. There is also a very modern Mexican paper making industry specializing in copier papers.

I did encounter e-book developments with dedicated devices and utilities. These and Spanish e-listings elsewhere may also have a backside with walk-in print-out.

As a generalization, Hispanic culture is intensively visual and book work is dominated by high design and color printing. There is a grounding of the book as a physical work. It is unclear how such traditions will convey to the screen.


For the gringo the Mexican book arts scene feels like cartels without violence. Famous organizers and their disciples manage markets and cultivate elite addictions. Behind it all a working class of street printers and crafts people survives. Behind the salons, diplomatic concourses and captitolism presumption a small garage, with a quiet, immaculate Intertype keeps the socialist revolution alive.

The gringo can suspect that both enclaves need each other. Haunting melodies of piano cascade as the player reads the obituaries or the gaunt architecture of vaults and a dome with streaming sun stands up before a visual furnace of “admiration and horror” of Orozco frescos. It is scary; the swirling man of fire.

Where are the weaknesses? Much too much elite book art is just work of graphic design folded. Complexity of codex format is circumvented. Calligraphic line brings motion to design but no mobility to reading. There is no link to the legacy and presence of bookbinding.


US mass market paperbacks fell 54% in September and trade paperbacks were flat. Hardcover sales were down 18%. Ebook sales doubled and were up 137% for the first nine months of 2011.

publishing discovery

“If we believe that convenience reading is moving at light speed over to e,” Mr. Schnittman said, using the industry shorthand for e-books, “then we need to think about what the physical qualities of a book might be that makes someone stop and say, ‘well there’s convenience reading, and then there’s book owning and reading.’ We realized what we wanted to create was a value package that would last.” NYT

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