Friday, March 12, 2010

Save The Books

Lately, I've been hearing a lot about the "End of Books". Yes, it's capitalized. That's how daunting it is. I passed by the current Wilson Quarterly at work yesterday and saw those words blazing back at me from the cover. It was also hinted at during the Writer's Conference I went to the other day, the imminent change in the world of publishing. And the Library has been piloting a program that allows patrons to borrow e-books from the safety of their own home. Does this make anyone else sad? I mean, I love the internet just as much as the next person. It has brought me a lot of interesting things. Facebook, instant messaging, and who could forget those delightful videos of keyboard cat?

But at the same time, I would miss the feel of having a book in my hand, and getting lost in one hundred page forest of plot and character. I've heard it argued that digitizing books would open avenues to link other text and expand. But if I just want to get lost in the singular world of my one books, what good are links? If anything, that would be distracting.

Don't get me wrong. I think e-books are a great thing. They fill a niche in the market. I have to wonder if Gutenburg would be crying at how his invention has been discarded, or excited at how his original idea: the mass production of information, has been taken to new heights.

Either way, I would like to mention the still thriving counter-culture of Artist Books. I've had some experience in this art. And I would argue that having books that spin, unfold and light up helps regain some of the prestige they lost when they boarded the train to mass production. If you've never seen any artist books, I've included some pictures below of books that I have made and in followup posts. First up is the accordion book:

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