Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Books in the age of the iPad

Books in the age of the iPad is an extremely interesting article by Craig Mod, analyzing the role of print vs. digital book layouts. He starts with a very bold statement 'Print is dying...' which I'm not too comfortable with. In my opinion print is not dying, if anything, old (quality) printing techniques are making a comeback. Looking at any design blog you'll notice the revival of letter press and screen printing techniques. These are print techniques which require skill and add texture and depth to work.

Neville Brody actually also spoke about this (as did some other speakers) at the ICTVC conference and made an interesting point. Books are made to last, but books should be used and read and not put on a bookshelf to gather dust, because then all it is, is a graveyard of coffins. Put away and forgotten about. So in this respect, books and magazines (glossies and novels) that you're only likely to read once or twice, SHOULD be digital and disposable. Books, real books, that you'll always want to keep and look at again and again because the content is so interesting or the book is so beautiful and well made will become pieces of art. Art that you can touch and smell. Art that will age like a fine wine.

Brody's studio designed the 2008 D&AD annual in a very un-annual way. The spine is left revealed and fragile, if used enough times (one should hope) it will begin to fall apart. Age shows use. The edge of the pages form a message (Digital vs Anti Digital) something you could only discover if you actually DID use the book.
Then you get designers like Irma Boom who specialize in book design, that proves it's a niche (and growing) art form. Irma even invented a new kind of paper for a 2136-page book that took five years to complete. More about that here. You can also read about Irma on the New York Times titled Reinventing the look (and smell) of a book. I guess in conclusion, while Craig's article and analysis is very interesting, one cannot proclaim print as dying, but rather that the role of print is changing, and the format we read books and magazines is changing. Old printing techniques are revived - welcome back quality!


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