What do we mean by the “idea of a book”?  (Johanna Drucker, 2003)

The book finds its channel to the brain through the eye, not through the ear; in this channel the waves rush through with much greater speed and pressure than in the acoustic channel. One can speak out only through the mouth, but the book’s facilities for expression take many more forms. A good example of print must be of noble design and be pleasing to the eye. Beyond that, it should not attract particular attention.

With changes in the language, in construction and style, the visual aspect of the book changes also.

(Jan Tschichold, 1991)

The idea that moves the masses today is called “materialism,” but what precisely characterizes the present time is dematerialization. (El Lissitzky, 1926)

The book has always been described as an object, however few have asked about the function of the book, what is the book doing? The book as a technology for organizing, storing and disseminating complex, textual/visual information. (Miha Kovac)

Electronic environments for reading and authoring expose our indebtedness to print culture at the conceptual level: what are the basic units for viewing and organizing text/image materials, how are relations among them ordered for reading and sequencing, how are they viewed and annotated?
This would be an understanding based less on a formal grasp of layout, graphic, and physical features and more on an analysis of how those format features effect the functional operation and activity of the work done by a traditional book. Or, to put it more simply, rather than think about simulating the way a book looks, we might consider extending the ways a book works as we shift into digital instruments.

Textual, visual, graphic, navigational, and multimedia artifacts that are geographically dispersed in their original form can be aggregated in a single space for study and use, manipulated in ways that traditional means of access don’t permit. Enthusiasm for experimental engagement with alternative structures and invention of new artistic, literary, graphic, or information forms has leveled off considerably while hypermedia have become familiar, integrated in a daily way with reading in electronic space. Online reading and the e-book industry’s attempt at designing a visual format that suggests an extension of the traditional book for presentation or re-presentation of materials once only available in the bound codex. The design embodies certain residual legacies that echo book structures, particularly in the way it segments or modularizes its spaces and their sequencing.

The experiment to develop new reading formats would appear to have reached an impasse if we judge by continuing addictions to traditional fictional forms, or even the activity of online reading by scrolling through a single text. “Superbook” and “hyperbook” formats have all attempted to simulate in flat screen space certain obvious physical characteristics familiar from traditional books. Much of electronic book design transfers the problems and responsibility of structuring the information in a meaningful manner from the author to the user and this forces the user to determine how to use the information. But most of what is understood by a “book” in the design of “electronic books” is fairly literal simulation.

The idea of “the book” guiding design of e-books has been a commonplace, grotesquely reductive and unproductive. The multiplicity of physical structures and graphic conventions are manifestations of activity, returned to book form as conventions because of their efficacy in guiding use.The traditional codex is also, in an important and suggestive way, already virtual. But also, that the format features of virtual spaces of e-space, electronic space, have yet to encode conventions of use within their graphical forms. As that happens, we will witness the conceptual form of virtual spaces for reading, writing, and exchange take shape in the formats that figure their functions in layout and design.

(Johanna Drucker, 2003)

The P-book is a whole unit, the E-book is merely a vessel which can contain and transport data. E-books are more restricted in their media richness and artistic design possibilities than print books. (Florian Cramer, May 20, 2011) P-books have an everlasting emotional and intellectual symbolism. The challenge will be to recreate this symbolic charge in E-books and other digital technologies to foster a similar kind of bond between the user and the device. (Silvio Lorusso, May 23, 2011)

Inês Sobral [turma A / 7302]

Tschichold, Jan. (1991). The Form of the Book: Essays on the Morality of Good Design. Vancouver: Hartley & Marks.
Lissitzky, El. (1926). Our book.
Cramer, Florian. (May 20, 2011). What binds a book. :encoding: ISO-8859-1
Drucker, Johanna. (2003). The Virtual Codex from Page Space to E-space
Lorusso, Silvio. (May 23, 2011). Miha Kovac: E-Books vs. P-Books.



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