Sunday, March 7, 2010

Briefly Noted

On Friday I read a provocative article by Craig Mod entitled "Books in the Age of the iPad". It was well balanced, and a welcome relief from the hubris of the "print is dead" crowd and the angst of those who foresee the imminent disappearance of the public library and print. I do not happen to see either as imminent, although I do believe that libraries need to examine their missions and their roles as community resources. That is an opportunity implicit in Mod's article. I am also struck by his version of the book's future, one in which the formless books-the airport paperback to coin a phrase-"the book printed without consideration of form or sustainability or longevity" are the domain of the e-reader, while print volumes "embrace their physicality — working in concert with the content to illuminate the narrative."

These will be books:

◦Confident in form and usage of material.
◦That exploit the advantages of print.
◦Are built to last.

The results are, as Mod see it:

◦The Books We Make will feel whole and solid in the hands.
◦The Books We Make will smell like now forgotten, far away libraries.
◦The Books We Make will be something of which even our children — who have fully embraced all things digital — will understand the worth.
◦The Books We Make will always remind people that the printed book can be a sculpture for thoughts and ideas.

"Anything less than this will be stepped over and promptly forgotten in the digital march forward." There is some way to go until we reach this point, and I encourage you to read carefully the many comments elicited by Mod's argument. There is still plenty of room for debate, as witnessed by the points and counterpoints offered by the respondents