15 March 2010

Wisest Thing I’ve Read Today

From Jenny Desmond Walters’s interview with Stephen Roxburgh of the children’s-book consultancy namelos, posted at Cynsations:

In your captivating and insightful paper “Word Buckets in Meatspace” posted on Scribd, you describe books as “word buckets” stating that a digital “word bucket” can be just as effective as a printed and bound “word bucket.” Why do you think some publishers, and especially some authors, seem to be so reticent to embrace ebooks?

For publishers, it’s a misguided attempt to protect a deteriorating business model.

For authors, it’s generational.

For those of us who have devoted our lives to books, printed books are objets d’art. They are the highest form of culture. They confer status. They define us. We revere them. No machine can ever have that cachet.

But the iconic value of codex form books is accidental. Strangely enough, youngsters are more focused on the essential value of content than the accidental value of form.

I’m sure some will wince at that assertion, but it’s true. We may not agree with kids’ assessment of the content, but that’s a different issue.

However, those of us who cling to our print books run the risk of sounding like Archie Bunker insisting that he can’t eat ice cream with anything other than his special World’s Fair spoon.
To which the kids would respond, “Who’s Archie Bunker? What’s so special about a World’s Fair?”

Roxburgh notes all the limitations of the printed book that we’ve gotten used to:
Artists didn’t choose to deal with prescribed trim sizes, gutters, bleeds, page turns, 32-pages, four-color reproduction, text blocks to accommodate black plate changes, etc. Those are limitations imposed by press sizes, color-separation and reproduction issues, and economic mandates. Now, the shackles are off! I can’t wait to see what is forthcoming.
One of the most interesting areas, I think, is whether stories must be consumed in a sequence determined by the author. Interactive media make it possible to give readers choices about what they see or read when. But is the gradual and sequential release of information a necessary part of storytelling?

No comments: