preservation and persistence of the changing book

Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

marking time

Time-based media, movies, music recordings and even phone conversations, move easily from analogue to digital format. Some print sectors associated with timed delivery, such as news or genre fiction, move easily as well and can decoy us into thinking that analogue print not associated with timed delivery will also migrate one-way from analogue to digital format.

But wait, what is going on with persistent analogue print sectors such as textbooks or the scholarly monograph or scripture? These sectors are especially NOT time paced in their delivery. The scholarly monograph has a perpetual long tail, and scripture is oddly perpetual as well. Textbooks are ambivalent either inscrutable or transparent to the given student with immensely different periods of engagement. The accumulated annotation and high-lighting in used textbooks are a clue to the persistent analogue genres.


“According to reports of an investor conference which appeared in the Taipei Times, e-paper specialist producer E Ink Holdings Inc. has announced lower sales and financial losses over the current and ensuing quarters, off the back of falling demand for its screens, found inside the Kindle and other e-readers.”

Perhaps the era of the screen mime of the paper book is ending and the advent of the native e-books is dawning. Reading habits have already adapted to scrolling and touch text manipulations. The codex may again be more synonymous as the dedicated black reading device useful in daylight and known for long battery life.

report pt 4

Collections Transition Underway

All perspectives concur that transition is underway. Hybrid services and hybrid collection resources are over-obvious and few imagine that the current situation is stable. A one-way transition from one stable state to another stable situation is imagined but the plateaus are debatable and the prospect of a fulfilled – even stable – hybrid mix is also possible. We are somewhere inside a sequence of changes.

One driver of transition is displacement of human collection curation and classification. Collection re-assemblies by size and inventory control have enabled warehouse commodification of print. Robotic item retrieval is in use. Meanwhile interlibrary loan services are in transition to more capable, convenient and speedy delivery.

In the OCLC symposium context a particular diagnostic of transition has been use of the WorldCat database to serve as context for data mining and comparative collection analysis. It must be recognized that this bibliographic utility capable of parsing at item, collection, institutional, regional, national and global level for comparative automated analysis is a new capacity and a transition itself. It is also worth noting that WorldCat is the context of cooperative print management within OCLC and ITHAKA S+R research. This exclusivity of diagnostics is apparent as the symposium participant also needed to correlate with models of borrowing and lending and policies of retention or disposal factors important in shared print management. Metrics of consortia scope and collection downsizing agendas are easily extracted from WorldCat but are somewhat blind to institutional motivations.

Other factors for definition of transition underway include the relevance of bibliographic analysis itself. Affordances of network based and screen accessed discovery are tending toward dissolve of bibliographic entities even extending to chapter and phrase parsing of monographs. A further aspect is role and status of paper collections in a context of their screen delivery. Another factor of transition state is the role of university research libraries in context with communal or third party print repositories as with Hathi Trust or Internet Archive.

Preservation Oversight

Lurking lessons from preservation agendas of the micro-form conversion era come to mind in current migrations from paper to screen collections delivery. During that era a one-way transition rather than composite functional interaction of formats was visualized and print newspaper disposal programs were easily justified.

In retrospect, the transformations from one eye-readable, analog format to another seems modest as compared with transformation from analogue to digital resources. Difference in affordances, ambivalence and costing of hybrid services, and risks of displacement and disposal of knowledge are accentuated.

Another layer of preservation implication is prospective. In the modern monographic print repository 40K title per month relocation and processing levels are experienced. How will the cooperative context influence continuing print acquisition? Is repository expansion of print monographs annually falling out of copyright a factor? How will circulation and scan on-demand of “last copies” be monitored?

Finally, what is the risk of disappearance of some print titles? Perhaps that fear is distraction from another…more real. That would be active preservation of screen monographs, either published or library produced. And perhaps we should not worry over warehouse devaluation of the print book. Rather we should advocate for fulfillment of the dual functionality and interdependence of paper and screen books. We need to navigate safely across the transitions in motion.


” Welcome to the official ANAGPIC 2014 Buffalo webpage with current information for planning your trip to the conference. Our theme this year is EXTREME CONSERVATION and we are excited to welcome you to our city and Buffalo State.”

FotB will be there…stay tuned.

what is

In The Author’s Hand and the Printer’s Mind Roger Chartier provides a whole section, in Part II, on “What is a Book?”. This multi-facet discussion is not to be confused with the essay “What is a Book?” By Chartier and Stallybrass in the Cambridge Companion to Textual Scholarship. If there is any overlap it would be the use of Shakespeare and Cervantes to reference the ambivalences presented overall.

The ambivalences arise among expositions of contrasting views that books exist in both in material forms and in reading practices of literary content. This ambivalence brews a “tension” that is also in accord with David Kastan who sees the ambiguity in a “pragmatic” and “platonic” state of the book.

Would it take any away from the elegant and logical precepts of these masters of bibliographic scholarship to suggest there is a third response to the question of what is a book? This third thing would be the tension existing between binaries and the ambivalence itself. Here we would encounter the resilience of book transmission. A fabulous resilience is the there, there as Andrew Piper suggests.

report pt 2

Going Forward

There is an expectation that technologies of data mining and systems analysis can manage cross-library metrics and cross-institution communication, agreement and management. SPMR projects are also buffered by shared print journals experience and an underlying assumption that the bridge to screen delivered library services and screen reading has been decisively crossed.

Even with the momentum toward SPMR, some surprises, unintended consequence and additional realizations popped-up. First is reconsidering the journal format transition to screen delivery as a model for screen delivery of monographs. Journals are delivered by article and feature high, short-term circulation. Monographs accumulate long term circulation and have different publisher and delivery constraints.

It also turns out that data scales more easily than communication and decision-making. As a result, a use-driven agenda based on the notorious low use of print cannot, by itself, drive action or compel massive disposal. A more optimal political framing suggests that a retention policy rather than a disposal policy should be the SPMR priority driver. Behind any “last copy” collection assembly is a more fundamental objective to let no print title disappear forever.

Another realization is that consortium member independence is as much accentuated as membership constraint regardless of any over-ride of MOUs. Intensified data collecting, extractions and interpretations may prove interesting but they are not necessarily actionable results. Moreover such data is retrospective and use, thus far, can only be based on print circulation. Haunting the whole SPMR movement is prospective implication of print title equivalent screen circulations and their use objectives and affordances. In this context faculty and student agendas factor-in and these have not yet intruded fully into SPMR planning. A fulfilled functionality of print and screen affordances – working in tandem – have not yet emerged. Faculty influence may again focus attention on retention selection rather than disposal selection.

Finally, an unintended consequence may also be dawning. This is that residual shared monographic collections, once administered as consumable “general” collections, will now be transformed into “special collections”. An associated metric is that rare or lesser held titles grow as a proportion with increasing membership of the cooperating institutions. Redundant “core” collections provide only 3% across the entire CIC, so scale adds to rareness. In this context “secondary works” will become “primary sources” for authentication and augmentation of their own screen titles. Scan on-demand services also factor. The full functionality of the SPMR collections is not yet fully emerged or accommodated.

report pt 3

Collections In Motion

The current continual movement of physical collections can feel like an analogue simulation of digital mobility. Relocation movements churn within the library building, between buildings, within a region and across interlibrary curcuits. If drone delivery is not yet projected, a whole spectrum of distribution channels are in motion. Such animation may not be well accounted within shared print agendas. Local renovation driven relocation can result in interspersed repository shelf vacancy and filling. Simple movement up and down elevators presents lost opportunity costs.

It is apparent that more massive cooperative holdings need reduction. With 112 million in the combined CIC collections only authentic “last copies” can be processed into any massively shared repository. Harvard is out of room with 11 million in storage.

Collections In Demand

Roger Schonfeld extended a quote from Clifford Lynch. Paraphrasing Clifford, he remarked that our current library service challenge is not access across paper and screen but between passive and on-demand services. Amazon and NetFlicks circulation networks also model library services and influence of changing reading behaviors is at work. Student and faculty preference determines everything from new title selection to coffee shop amenities. Delivery options include scan-on-demand from print repository locations and even one-way interlibrary loaning. End user reading devices are multiplying. Print source to screen delivery to print copy options are user driven as well. The high redundancy of “core” collections may prove un-de-duplication prone as materials may prove necessary to meet their higher use; redundancy of comparative local print holdings provides analogue connectivity assuring convenient accessibility.

Service from more tranquil repository setting is also heating up. Relative access for digitized versus un-digitized – washed and unwashed – materials is becoming distinguished. It may become apparent that frustrated demand may derive from unneeded constraints of delivery that are layered with handoffs.

book app

From the perspective of display on a hand-held device books are an app. From that frame the evident adoption curve of the e-book has assumed an expected profile. So far it is a bell.

Other factors of app adoption are at work as well. The print book has such an established market place and user familiarity that resistance to the new screen simulation product was overcome. Most adoption obstacles were dissolved by this familiarity. Books are in the same class as keyboards…everyone assumed that keyboard prompting was inherent in the transition from paper to screen texting. There was, and still is, an innocent compliance with keyboards including the inept QWERTY array. The same innocence has been in place with the print to e-book transition.

Will the bell curve of e-book adoption be fulfilled? As such that can be anticipated. Both research practices as well as the marketplace indicate a smooth decline of the classical notion and adoption of the screen book simulation of the paper book. Meanwhile the resilience of book transmission overall continues its long and invigorating delivery innovations.

report pt 1

The March OCLC 2014 symposium brought current research of the ITHAKA S+R to bear on the issues of shared print among research libraries. My comments consider resulting movement of print book collections among repositories, the demand driven agendas that have emerged and the actual situation of the “transition” underway. I also mention preservation implications.

The symposium referenced an ITHAKA S+R white paper addressing issues of “Right-scaling Stewardship: A Multi-scale Perspective on Cooperative Print Management”, by Constance Malpas and Brian Lavoie. This publication was based on comparative collections analysis of OSU and CIC print book resources. The symposium co-sponsors were Ohio State University Libraries and Committee on Institutional Cooperation.


The issues of cooperative monographic collection management have emerged from the longer shadow of print collection storage and migrations of journal literature from print to screen delivery. Institutional issues were summarized at an ALA/ALCTS Preconference, “Shared Print Monographs: Making It Work”, June 27, 2013, in Chicago. At that time it appeared the surge of consortia interest and projects in SPMR (shared print monograph repository) came from various circumstances and assumptions that included some bias and conflict. Consortium agreements such as the MOU (memorandum of understanding) are intended to manage conflict but participants “tend to hear what they want to hear”. As a result, various realizations have emerged – even at the early stages – and more adaptive prospects for shared print monographs were dawning.

The SPMR motivations derived from space re-allocation in libraries, from the long apparent low use of print collections, their copy redundancies and the high cost of print retention and traditional item weeding. SPMR project motivations also included discord between independent library actions and the hope that cooperative response could be more efficient.

(to be continued)

as is

“Meant to be used! Olympia’s SM models from West Germany are generally regarded as some of the best manual typewriters ever engineered. The solid, well-constructed machines are perfect for typewriter enthusiasts who not only want to own an aesthetically pleasing object, but truly want to type, type, and type to their heart’s content. These meet the requirements of the most demanding typist! SM 3 and 4 models came in various attractive colors in matte finish. The SM 4 has a more advanced tabulating system compared to the ordinary tabulating design in the SM 3. A wide range of type styles are available in these models.” Typewriter Store

On the road I stopped in Williamsport IN at the Blue Elephant. There was a small portable just like Paul’s. It was marked “as is” because it was locked for transport…I got it for $10. I found a machinist’s gauge in the case under the typewriter…just like the one I lost…Paul’s had an elegant Swiss font.

regional print management symposium

RPM is what was once a definition of a library. The multiple local print collection redundancies were the analogue version of connectivity. Now we manage the disassembly of such connectivity as we proceed to shared monographic repository and assumed displacement of circulating print books. The symposium is next week at Dublin (OH). FotB will be there…stay tuned.

This digital turn sounds familiar. Another instance is underway in natural history collections. For the first time ever the fossils can now be accessed from a different system of connectivity as they are delivered to 3D printing. It is possible the rocks are also an on-site inconvenience. This particular instance of digital access has a historical tinge. While print repication in books has been available for centuries the print replication of natural history specimens is just now being realized and extracted from manuscript metadata and source originals.

longitudinal ethnography

This euphemism serves Janice Radway in her essay on Zines. The essay (appearing in multiple anthologies) adds to the proposition that “ephemeral “ printed items such as Zines cannot be defined other than as symptoms or souvenirs of behaviors of social activism. That definition is focused on an enclave of their production; in other words their definition is ethnographic.

Radway’s longitudinal aspect conveys from the subsequent oral history of the movement, but an extension is possible. The longitudinal aspect can also include preservation activities and all subsequent meanings associated with surviving print artifacts such as 17th c. English play books or homesteader guidebooks or farm almanacs or a whole range of ephemeral print. So the needed longitudinal ethnography derives directly from survival, inadvertent or deliberate. It is the longitudinal ethnography that adds meaning and value to the printed ephemera. Longitudinal ethnography is a euphemism for preservation.

So now we have another concatenation; is preservation a symptom or souvenir of a behavior of social activism? Perhaps…but there is also a dark zone lurking. The ephemeral print is not initially canonic and must pass through a period of disregard and devaluation before the ethnographic value can kick-in. So the longitudinal dimension is a by-product of preservation, but only following uncertain survival.


It is dawning on the venerable editor of FotB that he has not expired. Initially retired, the Zombie has returned to trouble a new generation of Conservators. Those troubled are students of the also venerable Art Conservation program at Buffalo State College. This program was founded by “Monument Men” practitioners and is now staffed by iconic specialists working in a magnificent facility. The Buffalo program is an emerald Oz dream city of preservation and a lively state of mind of the actions of material culture conservation.

I am honored to wander the alley of book conservation within this great Metropolis.

feral university

A new ITHAKA S+R Brief considers participation of libraries in the volatile textbook sector. The analysis evaluates interplay of OER (open educational resources) and established textbook publications for university course work and a “course-based approach” provides context for discussion of emerging textbook equivalencies. This offers believable comparison of conventional textbooks with the OER systems and their business plans.

The discussion begins with the observation that students are “opting out” of purchasing required textbooks. That little remark could also be extended; students are also opting out of tuition increases and four-year degree regimes. Is it too much of an extension to suggest that students may also opt out of the credit-hour convention?

Innocent de-monetizing of the textbook market could convey to infrastructure of the credit hour where de-monetizing of the whole university learning transaction is involved. Whatever the larger implications, one apparent incubator of rebellion is the library. The research libraries are hosting the feral learning forums. As regards textbooks the libraries have already dissolved any focus on paper books. Walk into any university library and look around.

Young students are now somewhat chided for lack of a rebellious spirit of the 60’s. Perhaps us old Hippies, and university admin, have no idea… Right-on, all power to the people…


Codex reading may be displaced by screen reading within in some portion of a millennium. Evidence for such an extended displacement is described by Roger Chartier who points to the long twilight of mutual redefinition and composite innovation between manuscript and print. That interaction has more than five hundred years duration and only now looks threatened. An end of the interplay could be caused by children who can no longer write by hand or read handwriting.

Extrapolation conveys to codex and screen reading. This pair is just beginning a long and innovative interaction of mutual redefinition and complementary use. Perhaps eventual displacement of the older format can occur but it is not apparent yet and mutual innovations are only beginning to emerge. Perhaps displacement may eventually occur as a surprise and for strange reasons. A likely cause could be mutation of bionic literacy.

blog black

This exclusionary blog is going all black. No more pictures. Just as black type dominates text in books, FotB will have a uniform color.

17th c. and 21st

Technological and commercial determinists favor their own perspective on books. Those interested in cultural and social influences have different perspective. Feral seminarians and cross-disciplinarians favor a third perspective of resilience of book transmission and a fluctuating influence of deterministic factors.

Technologic and commercial influence dominated in 17th century book transmission. Here we observe cultural genres such as the Hispanic romance or English theater production manipulated, reformatted and transmitted by book production and distribution agencies. Authors were rather trivial in this context and book commodities were determined by printing processes and commercial interests. This circumstance is beautifully described in The Author’s Hand and the Printer’s Mind by Roger Chartier.

A similar situation of technical and commercial dominance is also apparent today with the advent of digital book technologies and on-line enterprise. Cultural and social influences will soon follow and may come to dominate book transmission as they did during the literacy and authorship eras following the 17th century. Feral seminarians look at the fluctuations of deterministic factors and the enduring resilience of book transmission overall. There is the possibility of continual interplay of all determinants oscillating through history.

as if

An awareness of the present moment varies with medium. The screen experience presents the present moment right at the surface of the glass of the screen. Previous time is layered below, either scrolled down or back in History. The codex layers forward. A beginning, middle and end are expected arriving finally at the conclusion as a momentary awareness. Audio narratives, by contrast, progress continuously at a present moment and can dissipate a sense of progression.

The book format is exercised across these various media. A given work can even be arrayed as differing experiences by reading the screen, paper, and audio versions. This is useful to realize from a commercial perspective and augments book theory if such a phenomena can be resolved. As if a book encompasses, compresses, augments, or expands sorts of time. That is a kind of handle of the book tool.

book theory

The book deserves a theory. After all, expanding and contracting universes have them.

At first the book appears too amorphous and then too familiar to need a theory. However ambivalent it is, one way get to book theory is to compose a book on the subject. Andrew Piper did that with his book; Book Was There. Such a weird and reflexive situation deserves some kind of attention.

Our own feral seminar on the resilience of book transmission has already invented or uncovered constructs that can resemble a theory. There is the construct of the seminar itself as resources are extracted from six disciplines of book history, current book technologies and commerce, cognitive science of reading, library science, book arts and literary study. So that resource base is a starting construct.

Each of these resources has a construct in-turn. Book history features study of book transmission across time and cultures. Current technology and commerce does the same, but focuses on the present moment among living book users while it also anticipates future book use. Cognitive science goes beyond both current and previous book use to construct the embedded capacities of bionic readers and define neurological re-adaptations. This discipline then also provides context for non-bionic, computer assisted, book use. Library science is the enclave for study of book arrangement and network utility. Book art is the workshop for study of book design options. Finally, literary study provides a territory for critical contrast of book centric works and even for merge of perspectives from all the relevant book study zones.

Another basic construct with fractals inside derives from book as a versatile tool. Here we encounter cultural behavior and material anatomy and ecological resilience. This is a dynamic, nearly living, zone of the book. The cultural behaviors range across binaries of veneration and disregard, preservation and destruction, or arcane and folkloric. Such binaries interplay and the interplay is the behavior at work. The material anatomy encompasses the surface, image and commodity. These features derive from paper, printing and bookbinding, but are extended to all book formats including screen and audio. Resilience of the book is an amazing quality that redefines cultural and material features and places focus on book performance overall. Book resilience encompasses its own performance construct of ambivalence, stealth, good humor and eerie relevance.

In summary the book deserves its own theory. It is a subject of expansive study while it performs with resilience. It is interesting that book theory provokes more books.

recent interview


Gary Frost: I had from a young age a background in production craftwork. I was also interested in art, and went to the Art Institute of Chicago. I got my first job in about 1969 at the Newberry Library and worked there for about 12 years. In that time, I took an interest in book conservation. Once I started at the Newberry, book conservation was really my career orientation from that point on. It was an excellent opportunity because that was one of the pioneering facilities in the conservation of books in this country. I got to know other characters that were interested in the same thing and had a very good mentor, Paul Banks.

In about 1981, Paul and I went on to New York City. Paul started a training program in library and archives conservation in the old library school of Columbia University. I was one of the instructors in that program and taught the lab sections. I was at the library school from 1981- 1986. I moved to Austin, Texas to work in a bookmaking facility, and the program at Columbia subsequently moved to Austin as well, so it was kind of a coincidence. So I worked in that program for a while. In Texas I was at the Book Lab, which is essentially a fine edition and library services bindery. I was at the Book Lab and the Texas program for another 11 years. I was still alive, so in 1999 I moved to Iowa. In Iowa, I went to work for the preservation department of the University of Iowa library. I have been here for almost 14 years. I have retired, but I still go in once a week.

Changes to Book Conservation

Gary Frost: I worked with Paul Banks for 25-30 years, and he said that book collections are somewhat different from other museum and fine art collections. The way that they are different is that the object of treatment is not a single item but a collection. The idea of the object is the composite of the collection and the meaning inherent in the association of all the items. If you think about polychrome sculpture or an oil painting, you can deal with them one at a time. When you are conserving libraries and archives, you have to think about whole collections. Increasingly, you have to consider whole databases, delivery systems, and so on. So you can see that what Paul said is highly relevant. It is one of the most useful things that I have ever learned.

Training and Education

Gary Frost: One of the biggest challenges is craft skill. It’s different from academic research or intellectual exercise. It’s a lot of work to do craft production and error free work, and you can always, always improve. One of the biggest challenges is obtaining, maintaining, and advancing craft skill. Craft skill is part of everything. It is present when doing any work, like preparing the materials for an exhibit: cradles, lighting, etc. You can’t just step up to a photocopier and be successful. Craft skills permeate everything, even when you don’t suspect it.


Gary Frost: Books are, to a great extent, the same in that they are equally as diverse and unusual wherever you go. Books previously were assembled in physical collections. That is no longer the case. Many of the book collections now are assembled in data banks and delivered across servers and networks to reader devices. Research and academic libraries are moving in the direction of shared, monographic collections among different institutions, which means physical books are being removed from libraries. The nature and purpose of print books are changing, and this might be the elephant in the room for book conservators in the next generation.

Book conservators need to be very agile not to be associated with the dynastic Egypt concept of putting things in tombs. It used to be that the media (books) were longer lasting than the person. In other words, the mortality of the conservator or librarian was much greater than that of books. They last for centuries. But now, the media (digital files) are more mortal than the practitioners, the librarians and conservators. Backwards compatibility in some computer media is only 5-10 years. Magnetic tapes from 50 years ago are still good, but we don’t have high quality tapes anymore. This is a very disturbing circumstance that has just recently occurred, in the last century or so.

Career Orientation

Gary Frost: It is crucial for younger people to give themselves enough room to decide to be a book conservator. It took me decades before I was comfortable calling myself a book conservator because I still had a lot to learn. A number of people around me better exemplified the idea. Therefore, stay open before deciding specifically that you want to be a book conservator. But you should associate with and learn in a mentor relationship from practitioners. That mentorship relationship is important early on if you decide to pursue conservation. There is a threshold and you need to cross over it at your own pace. If you are passionate and driven, that is a huge advantage, but mentoring is a big component because you need to not just learn from experience.

learning commons

The University of Iowa Main Library Learning Commons is described as a “one-stop academic resource center and tech-infused comfortable study space”. At the ribbon cutting the University President said; “It is hardly the Library anymore.” Whatever it is, the Learning Commons has become “the coolest place on campus” with coffee shop offerings, wide screen feeds and color-coded tech studios for working groups.

It is still library-centric as a “space” or place and library-like in its emphasis on learning rather than teaching. The skew maintains library service to the faculty, departmental ambivalence, and whole student body accommodation. Less apparent is Learning Commons subversion. While administrators delight in the intensive use and popularity of the LC there may also be a viral displacement at work inside the anatomy of the university.

Unlike the exterior competitions of MOOCs, innovative vocational training and alternatives to degree accreditation, internal innovations could also challenge the management of a university. The privileged place of the library can position it as particular threat to established order. Add to this the native stealth of librarians and cunning of students and revolution could emerge on the inside.

The library’s accommodation of feral group study may engender a self-teaching movement at odds with the regime of the credit hour and its monetization of learning. Students are already finished with tuition increases and a shortened three-year undergraduate degree is widely popular. A new element is the innovation incubator of the library. The books and collections and sequestered, silent readers…are not the focus now. The library is reinventing the university.

“Yea, an incubator. I had one of those as a youngster. Hatched chickens. I wonder where those chickens are now, or the incubator for that matter? Smelled fowl, actually. And the anatomy of the campus? The kids just want to have sex. And let ‘em, for the price they are paying for tuition. I am not sure much has changed, actually. Sure weed is legal in Colorado, but Utah is holding the line. The wars play on. Big weather has replaced big hairdos but hold on to those old ties, those patterns are coming back. Let’s plan to meet up again at the coolest place on campus, light one for the Gipper, and check out the test patterns on the wide screen feed. Color-coded tech studios and the library as “space?” Far out.” (a librarian’s comment)

theory of the book 2

It is interesting that screen book readers always mention convenience. The screen books appear to convene affordances and ease logistics of book reading. This trait may augment, or even pivot, a more general theory of resilience of the book transmission across all book formats, display conventions, and delivery networks. Convenience has a proven role in book commerce and technology. Conveniences of mobility and re-arrangement are also a factor in book history generally.

Other affordances of cultural and material qualities may converge with traits of book resilience and such a merge could also align with an incentive toward convenience. The book is a tool and we are all somewhat lazy…but the demands of reading cognition are large enough to favor convenience. Taken together a theory of the book would need integration of cultural, material, and resilience traits and convenience suggests another merge precept for that triad.

gone global

“Attention all GBW members! Without your help, the New York Chapter will be forced to shutter its doors. Don’t let this happen! Now is the time to step up and do your part.”

I recall when the NY chapter was the Guild; the smoke filled studio meetings and the ladies’ club raisin toast teas. The Guild echoed the aura of its beginnings then. This latest appeal suggests the dawn of a “second machine age” …as described in the new book by authors Brynjolsson and McAfee.

scraped scrapbook

After 14 years the 47 stores of Archiver’s scrapbook supplies has closed. They join the many other sudden tent foldings of the short-lived paper scrapbook craze. This industry was based on high profit, paper conversion products. Industrial, hand-made scrapbooking was a short interlude between the long history of commonplace book repository and household economies of heirloom making and the new economies and formats of social media. The industry veneration of preservation and archival materials was rather shallow and the endless adulation of family history is over. Or will these commercial prompts pop up again?

One outcome is the “personal” photo book. The self-published photo book is not homemade but mass-produced as an entirely new sector of book production. The future of the jet printing of full color is represented by services such as blurb. These products, created by previous scrapbook and photo album markets and other self-publishing markets are the new commonplace books.

theory of the book

A recent thread on SHARP queried a theory of the book. Three components for a theory of the idea of a book can include (1) culture traits as a cohesive content, (2) material traits as made commodity, (3) a resilience traits of useful mobility.

Cultural Traits as a class of patrimony featuring cohesive reading content; content tagged however compiled to text and illustration, time-paced with infiltrating paratext prompting, an educational tool
auxiliary to other patrimony and augmenting meaning of other media, commerce driven influencing social enclaves as canonic, fandom witness

Material Traits as a manufactured commodity; compact retail commodity assembled into distribution systems, libraries
and access utilities; cognitive refinement as designed for bicameral, haptic, and pattern recognition reading capacity, transmission diversity spanning paper, screen, and audio formats, propagation capacity of mass production with widespread reproducibility

Resilience Traits of cross-disciplinary definition and useful hand-held mobility; a distributed preservation repertoire with institutional obligation, cross disciplinary attention including collaborative book history, current commerce and technology, cognitive science, library science, book arts, and literary studies, mobility encompassing a codex template and a variety of electronic devices with their extended connectivities, user authoring, revision and redistribution, an eerie complementary relation of genres, formats and locales of usefulness


“…the amount of data worldwide grew 48% between 2010 and 2012 to 2.7 zettabytes.” This exponential dynamic spills over to books. Digital books in a library cloud quietly compound as data points, as complex, composite sources, and, as on-line collections. Of interest may be the digital and screen delivered influence on any analog idea or theory of the book.

The usage constraint of a bionic reader is now exceeded with book use by reading utilities of algorithmic search, pattern recognition and content analysis. Analog books are transformed by automated reading. As with negotiation of a steady-state or dynamic universe, a theory of the book can be transacted again. Both digital and analog books will need to be encompassed. The encompassing may itself be the theory. Encompassing resilience may be the idea of the book.

Copyright © 2000-2014 futureofthebook.com All Rights Reserved • Powered by WordPress • Hosted by Weblogger