Ripping off the cover: Has digitization changed what’s really in the book?
The wonderful journal “Logos” has published a tink piece I wrote on the “future of the book” or, more precisely, on what e-Books and digitization may have changed – or not changed at all – about books:
What is a book? And, what’s really in it? These
two simple questions are getting both more
complicated and more interesting as books are
moving from their incarnation as “laminated wood
pulp” — as some digerati nerds mock the ink-onpaper
versions of traditional knowledge containers
— to other, mostly digital media.
With a multitude of new manifestations of
the book, initiatives on the book, book-related
gadgets and uses, and with 2008 as a likely
watershed year for the future of electronic books
(e-books), it seems only appropriate to revisit
these two primal questions in a more systematic
and serious way.
Admittedly, this article is more a loose set of
initial observations, thoughts and notes than a
thoroughly researched essay — at best a think
piece, trying to identify and pick up a number of
the loose ends of the current and often emotional
debate on e-books. I try to identify some aspects of
what may change — or has changed already — as
books go digital; what on the contrary will not be
so different, after all, in the digital future; what is
at stake; and, somewhat as a postscript, why ebooks
so far have not been at all successful in
competing with the traditional book.
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