Daily Thoughts 4/1/2010
I read some more of A Better Pencil on the way to see the dentist this morning. There is quite a bit of interesting material. Dennis Baron describes the experience of writing in clay tablets telling us that no tablet comes out the same and that they are often quite hard to read. He describes his early experiences using Wordstar one of the first word processors as well.
I especially like Dennis Baron's commentary on how as early as Gutenberg, people chose the author and publisher over the format of the writing. It did not matter so much that a book was printed on papyrus, vellum, or paper, the content was what was important to people. What Gutenberg did was make the content more available to people. The main detraction was that vellum and papyrus lasted over a thousand years leaving a more permanent record. Even in the 15th century "content was king."
This idea still has relevance to us today. It is the content that matters. The package is more of a convenience and a preference of tools than a necessity. There are benefits to printed works on paper as well as electronic works. I think there will be less paper books, but those that are printed will be better laid out, have higher quality paper, as well as better illustration to compete with digital books. They also will be printed more quickly, be more easily recyclable, and be easier to get. At least, this is my hope. Ebooks will make many more books available to people. This is especially true for books that are creative commons or no longer under copyright. Both the ebook market and the print on demand market are the two fastest growing segment of the publishing world.
I had a chance to stop by the library after my dental visit where I work to pick up two more books, Agatha Christie's Secret Notebooks Fifty Years of Mysteries in the Making by John Curran, and The Ruling Sea by Robert V.S. Redick which is a fantasy novel.