Exercise 2

The future of the book

This brief asked me to explore some of the factors that may influence the future of the book by reading Chapter 7 of David Finkelstein and Alistair McCleery’s ‘An Introduction to Book History’ and to summarise my thoughts on the future of the book in a creative way, using statements, quotations, images, collage or ideas.

I began by reading into the factors at play, and summarised the research after reading the chapter. It struck me that there could well be a middle ground between digital technology and physical books as they both offer something completely unique to the experience of reading.

In my exploration of the future of the book, I wanted to reflect the many factors at play and consider the near and more distant future. Personally, I adore the physical book and do not particularly enjoy reading on a screen. However, many people have devices on which to read countless books and have made that shift. I do not believe that books will ever become completely obsolete because they have remained important for hundreds of years and have something unique to offer. As Finkelstein and McCleery (2005) explained, creativity in printing and physical bookmaking has become essential to stand out in the modern world; the feel of moving pages, interacting with pop-up/lift-the-flap elements, and seeing the layers of colour is special to the physical book and cannot be replicated with digital technology. I still think the book will remain.

I resonated with the idea of books becoming “treasures” – items that trigger nostalgia and take the reader to a space of relaxation and leisure. Already, we spend lots of time reading on digital devices, for work, for education, or for communication purposes; reading an actual book can be seen as a fun activity rather than an everyday occurrence. Luckily, I work in a school where reading books is still very much encouraged – this is why I find it hard to believe they will ever completely disappear. They still bring so much joy to younger generations.

I do, however, believe there is room for digital technology to capture a different aspect of reading or enjoying a book. Virtual reality could offer so much to this area. Imagine exploring an encyclopedia by searching for a topic and physically feeling like you were walking through a time in history, an event that occurred, a location in space… Text, images, sound, and even touch could be incorporated to create an interactive “reading” experience. This would make storytelling and researching incredibly exciting.

Truthfully, I think the future of the book will be a balance. There is no doubt that digital technology will continue to be a huge presence in our lives, however, I do not think this equates to the physical paper book disappearing. There is still lots of room to make the storytelling experience more interactive and exciting, but that does not mean books will no longer be enjoyed. There is something special about them; that is why they have remained for so long.

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