Designer: Kyle Bean
The future of the book is a hot topic for those of us invested in our local libraries. With eBooks providing the latest titles, Project Gutenberg supplying all classic literature completely free, and most of our factual research happening on Google, it seems the book is speeding down the dreary road to obsolescence.
For all practical purposes, the book is already obsolete! It is no longer the easiest way to disseminate information; it is no longer the most practical medium for storage and retrieval. For many, an attachment to books is purely emotional or nostalgic – something rooted in the heart instead of the mind, much like visual arts.
The Future of the Book
- Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury (of course!)
- The Googlization of Everything (and Why We Should Worry) by Siva Vaidhyanathan
- Total Recall: How the e-Memory Revolution will change Everything by Gordon Bell and Jim Gemmell
Constitution 3.0: Freedom and Technological Change edited by Jeffrey Rosen and Benjamin Wittes
In many ways, the book has become like a work of art, with no inherent usefulness beyond that attributed by the owner. Though literature has longed been viewed as an art, the emphasis has always been placed on artistry of words. Concrete poetry, the work of e. e. cummings, and more recent novels such as House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski, have brought modern typography into the realm of modern art, but what of the art of The Book?
- Just My Type: a Book About Fonts by Simon Garfield
- The Non-Designer's Design Book: Design and Typographic Principles for the Visual Novice by Robin Williams
- Helvetica: a Documentary Film directed by Gary Hustwit
- Alice In Wonderland - Lewis Carroll ('The Mouse's Tale' is one of the most famous examples of English concrete poetry)
The Book may have reached the end of one life – a life of practicality and distinguished purpose – but it has only just scratched the surface of its new life in the world of the aesthetic.
Books like The Invention of Hugo Cabret and its follow-up, Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick are impeccable examples of the transition from the practical to the beautiful. These Juvenile books (though thick) are quick, plot-driven reads that use more than words to tell the story. Each page becomes a work of art that moves the story. While I am glad that Scorsese's movie adaptation of the story, Hugo, was so eagerly received in theaters, it can never capture the sense of awe I first felt when I flipped through the first few pages of the book. Instead of simply creating a mental picture, it created a mental movie with fast-paced action from the very first moonlit illustration.
Authors are just starting to figure out how to expand the idea of what can and cannot be in a book. Chopsticks, a short story by Jessica Anthony, doesn’t use any typical storytelling methods. Each spread page is a separate work of art – sometimes a scrapbook, sometimes a television or newspaper headline, sometimes photographs and souvenirs. This technique is often seen in graphic novels (such as Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight or Alan Moore’s Watchmen that rely heavily on “talking head” segments from news broadcasts to sum up a plot point), but rarely respected in classic literature. The new book breaks free from these confines to explore the wide world of the plot-driven aesthetic.
- The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick
- Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick
- Chopsticks by Jessica Anthony
- Watchmen by Alan Moore
Brian Dettmer's Book Autopsy
The art of the book is bound by certain rules (yes, pun intended), just as every other artistic medium. At its most basic level, the book is made up of multiple pages, fastened at one end, generally containing printed material, and usually able to fit comfortably in hand. These restrictions are stifling to those seeking to spread information, but to the craftsman and artist, this leaves a world of possibilities. A simple Google Image search for the term “book art” will show the wide array of crafts being created from books - from origami to sculpture - as well as its strengthening popularity with recent exhibits in major museums all over the world. One notable artist, Brian Dettmer, has been called the Book Surgeon because of his painstakingly precise page carvings. You can see his work here, but get ideas for your own art work from these books in our collection!
Book and Paper Crafts
- Origami and papercraft: a step-by-step guide by Paul Jackson
- The pop-up book: step-by-step instructions for creating over 100 original paper projects by Paul Jackson
- The repurposed library: 33 craft projects that give old books new life by Lisa Occhipinti
- Alphabetica: an A-Z creativity guide for collage and book artists by Lynne Perrella