On Storm Wracked Seas

“…the page is not a vessel, but an ocean; and the text, tossed on its waves, is a shipwreck in language that draws the reader’s eye across its shimmering surface.”

-Stephane Mallarme, A Throw of
the Dice Will Never Abolish Chance

This quote caught my attention as it relates to the future of books because I’ve always likened the internet to a digital ocean. In this example I would almost argue the opposite for the future of the book with individual words being the water, flowing to fill new forms. There are an ever expanding range of forms to fill, with new kinds of affordances built into them.

Our ability to freely design and display text, images, and videos leads to new layers of complexity that might appear in books of the future. One thing I could see happening would be the integration of flexible digital screens into books like those might appear at the Codex book convention.

Multimedia has become de riguer in terms of both format and content across several mediums. For example new articles, recipes, and blogs are all genes within the new electronic medium that have become multimedia artifacts incorporating text, images, and videos all into one. This blog post is doing that now!

I think that the future of a book might begin to incorporate the affordances of the format in which it is viewed. For example if viewed in a format that supports video like a tablet or computer there could be exclusive parts of the book that only work or appear in that format. This gets more into marketing and business model admittedly but I think that there is immense artistic and commercial potential in multimedia books.

Stories that have become movies or television shows like the Harry Potter or Game of Thrones franchise have already begun to incorporate images from the shows to the printed works. I think it is a reasonable extension that if the electronically published versions of the works become popular enough they might begin to incorporate multimedia as a standard part of the work.

Underpinning all of this are words that make these formats usable. Technology affords new levels of engagement with text and images that can be included in ways that were never possible before.

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