Linotype University brought line casters from all over including California, Nova Scotia, Missouri, Kansas, Tennessee, Wisconsin, Arizona and Iowa. It was fun and agony…the best learning situation!
A template for discussion of trends in book transmission can begin with an image derived from printing, a substrate derived from paper and a commodity derived from bookbinding. Both print and screen books can be considered following this template.
With the physical book the printing has been somewhat privileged as a crucial component. Perhaps printing is viewed as an “agent of change” in book transmission because it is more easily associated with words and content. Discussion of the role paper as the substrate for printing is typically reduced in relation to printing and crucial discussion of book commodification is almost absent.
If we address book transmission as conveyed by screen books a very curious inversion of emphasis can be observed. With electronic books commodification suddenly gets most attention as discussion centers on nooks, Kindles and iPads. These consumer devices evoke the most interest while the imaged content fades as a transient stream of electrophor or phosphor appearances. No mention of the glass display substrate is made at all.
This strange outcome of print and screen books comparison may suggest their different roles in book transmission overall. The print book is most associated with content because its content transmission is so effective while the screen book is more associated with device commodity because that materiality persists as content display changes.
This latest paperwhite eink electrophor device gets closer to paper contrast as well as full grey zone rendering. This is my fourth Kindle. The first two were original G3 connectors and the last two are wi-fi. The navigation on the paperwhite is hybrid with touch toggle for page scroll or page turn. It is lighter and thinner and smaller in a progression familiar with all hand held devices. There is also a screen lighting that manages all levels of ambient illumination.
Shopping fulfillment is refined with an evocation of adventure within a mall. Even in this black, dedicated book reading environment, the allure of distractive shopping opportunities is close at hand. At the same time the book reading function is also refined with choice of font, type size and margin allowance. Little amenities of library tagging of progression in given titles and some kind of touch annotation (that I miss-prompt as a page turn) are welcome.
It is interesting how the black, electrophor nook and Kindle devices flirt with their complimentary color, phosphor devices. There is a meta-expectation established in screen decors, screen touch zones and chassis grips. There is also a strange counter market as searchers are redirected to print titles not available in the Amazon utility.
How accredited is the future of the book as an authentic humanist research agenda? We know it crosses interests of book studies, book technologies, cognitive aspects of reading, library preservation and book arts. But is it capable of advancement as a decisive research agenda on its own?
Can the future of the book as a research agenda find premise and continuity? The future of the book, by definition, appears to reach for inaccessible evidences and metrics. At the same time accentuated projection and speculation abbreviates regard for the past. Screen book advocates can view history as something that is yet to occur.
How can a more complete projection across past, present and future accredit future of the book research? To begin with it can be realized that the paradigm shifts that provoke our current composite print and screen book transmission occurred in the 19th century. These included the advents of instantaneous communication, audio and photographic recording, digital encoding, and mass media. Our current century has only managed the integration of these fundamental innovations.
We can also advance by taking down partitions between print and screen book affordances and advance to the study of their interrelations and possible interdependences. Obvious topics of paratext apparatus, complementary function fulfilling a new definition of book transmission, cognitive attractions of composite book use, and new library services have yet to be realized. Beyond mimicry between print and screen books we need to discover a new composite medium of authentic physical and virtual electronic books.