Print is dying. Digital is surging. Everyone is confused.
As you catch wind of the arrival of the iPad pre-order (breathe, breathe), we'd like to point out a wonderful article on a topic dear to Core77: Books in the age of the iPad, by Craig Mod (thank you, Golden Age).
Instead of mourning the loss of the printed page with the arrival of the iPad, Craig points out that it may actually improve the publishing industry by digitizing much of the junk and making room for the stuff that actually ought to be printed, and with care. And anyway, who said there's only be one way to consume written media in the first place? Why not a diversity of ways to experience the written word?
We're losing the throwaway paperback.
The airport paperback.
The beachside paperback.
We're losing the dregs of the publishing world:disposable books. The book printed without consideration of form or sustainability or longevity. The book produced to be consumed once and then tossed. The book you bin when you're moving and you need to clean out the closet.
Once we dump this weight we can prune our increasingly obsolete network of distribution. As physicality disappears, so too does the need to fly dead trees around the world.
You already know the potential gains: edgier, riskier books in digital form, born from a lower barrier-to-entry to publish. New modes of storytelling. Less environmental impact. A rise in importance of editors. And, yes -- paradoxically -- a marked increase in the quality of things that do get printed.
From 2003-2009 I spent six years trying to make beautiful printed books. Six years. Focused on printed books. In the 00s.
And I loved it. I loved the process. The finality of the end product. I loved the sexy-as-hell tactility of those little ink and paper bricks. But I can tell you this: the excitement I feel about the iPad as a content creator, designer and publisher -- and the potential it brings -- must be acknowledged. Acknowledged bluntly and with perspective.
The piece is long and rigorous and worth a deep read: Craig not only discusses the implications of the iPad for publishing, but also describes, in detail, some of the things the iPad does, from a book designer's perspective. For example, Formless vs. Definite Content, the Universal Container, the Vertical Chapter vs. the Infinite Content Frame, and etc.
Ok, I think I've waited long enough to assure myself that I'm in control of my impulses. Now to the pre-order page.
Spend some time with Craig's article here.