“…to understand the new questions that digital books or texts compel us to ask, students need to understand and value both the material existence of books and the history of books.” Allison Muri, Professor, “History and Future of the Book”.
Iowa Book Works produces the teaching aids needed for undergraduate learning within courses of book studies. The legendary Ethiopian book kits and comprehensive Historical Binding Teaching sets engage and compel learning of students who are otherwise more dependent on screen discovery. Years later these students will be amazed to realize their persistent understanding of the papyrus codex.
Suppliers such as Iowa Book Works are enjoying a flood of orders and educators report that during the last few decades the study of material texts has flourished in all fields of literary study. As with any surge, a compensating correction can also be anticipated as we see in the decline of the “scrapbooking” craze. It may be that these avenues of legacy format transmission are not fundamental to understanding a new environment of digital communications.
But as surges go, the book has already persisted across epics. That very resilience is worth many continuing actions of book studies.
growth industry 2
And what about the surge in weekend Book Festivals? Brooklyn, Baton Rouge, Madison, Austin, LA, DC, San Diego and Iowa City! What is so street ready about book writing and reading? These were rather quiet, solitary activities. Some feral behaviors of a disturbed ecology?
“How long is print required for access following digitization? If not for reader access, how long is it required for other purposes such as re-digitization?” ITHAKA S+R blog
This question can be approached by asking another question; “How long will the digitization be needed?” Will the screen format have extended use for access or other purposes? While source and surrogate roles can be assigned to either print or screen copy, their interdependence and useful continuing roles follows from such relation.
Continuing interaction of source and surrogate can be outlined in terms of back-up, mastering and authentication. BACK-UP is capacity for regeneration of copy as may be needed due to systems failure, delivery or display compromise. (i.e. proprietary take-down, governmental censorship, copy right infringement take-down, device compromise) MASTERING is capacity for augmentation, enhancement or perfecting of faulty copy (i.e., adding missing pages, adding foldouts or color to Google book copy, adding a missing image of the book cover, or increased image resolution or other direct enhancement) AUTHENTICATION is capacity for resolution of forensic, production or provenance questions (i.e., distinction between copy and source faults, evidence of copy manipulation or sophistication, verification of margins and edges)
Some affordances, inherent in different delivery and display formats, can favor one or the other for a given access use yet all can complement each other. With the screen and print book it can appear that neither will flourish without the other. Such interdependence is especially apparent in scholarly monographs and research library access. At least the interdependence is apparent so far. ITHAKA S+R faculty survey reveals a simultaneous enthusiasm for both print and screen book formats. Perhaps this is not an ambiguity but a decisive understanding of the role of books.
A morphic resonance is at work and the role of print and screen books can be projected based on past performances. On one side this could explain the seeming low use of paper monographs as they fulfill rather seculsive uses, just as they have always done. Screen books fulfill expansive uses that transcend book format and conventions of book production, just as they have always done.