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Saturday, January 26, 2019
A Bright Future For The Book
the SONY Reader was invented in 2006 and Amazon introduced its Kindle a year
later, many pundits predicted the rapid decline of printed books.As digital sales the last five years have
shown, the experts were wrong.Print
sales have continued to climb year-to-year for many years, while ebook sales
have fallen in the same period.Roughly
80% of the book market still comes from printed books.So is the traditional form of the book dead?
at all, but it still is in danger. Ebooks are cheaper, available 24-7, portable,
can be read with enhancements like video, and match with the lifestyle trend of
everything being in a digital box.But I
despise e-books.There’s nothing like holding
a printed book in your hand, smelling the ink, feeling the paper.Seeing the book on the shelf reminds you of
what you have read and who you are.
In the Book by Amaranth
Borsuk, an examination of the future and history of books is undertaken in an
interesting and insightful manner.It is
worth noting that the book we know of today is the product of other formats
that, with the advent of new technologies, will morph into new forms.
instance, the codex (the way we have bound pages) didn’t immediately replace
scrolls.In fact, scrolls and codex
books made of both parchment and papyrus existed side by side within Roman
culture for centuries.
interesting tidbit; Gutenberg died never having profited from his invention or
his standardized Bible.In 1455 he lost
a lawsuit that led him to forfeit his print shop.But his printing press vastly accelerated the
speed of book production by allowing hundreds of identical copies of a single
text to be printed.
course one can’t discuss books without talking about copyright protection and
piracy.If intellectual property is not
protected fiercely, we have a Wild West approach to the life’s work of
world’s first protection for writers came about in 1709 under the Statue of
Anne in England, which gave ownership of work to its author, but protecting
those rights only for 14-28 years.
to Borsuk: "While the Statute of Anne had
restricted copyright to a maximum of 28 years, British booksellers fought to
maintain perpetual copyright during a 60-year period known as the ‘battel of
the booksellers.’ The landmark case Donaldson vs. Beckett (1774) struck down
perpetual copyright and confirmed the copyright term established by the
Statute, bringing a wealth of material into the public to domain and setting a
precedent that would be adopted and adapted around the world in the ensuing
decades.The United States would pass
its own Copyright Act, An Act for the Encouragement of Learning, in 1790,
revising it periodically over the next two centuries.As the name suggests, it aimed to protect the
rights of authors while also ensuring works would enter the public domain
within a reasonable timeframe."
also noted: “International respect for copyright was established by the 1886
Berne International Copyright Convention and the American International
Copyright Treaty of 1891, defining important protections for reprints and works
book has a long history – and hopefully an even longer future.Just what is a book? “A book is an experience… a book starts with
an idea.And ends with a reader,” says
Julie Chen and Clifton Meador in How
conclude with this excerpt from Borsuk’s book:
thing we picture when someone says “book” is an idea as much as an object.As the history of the books changing form and its mechanical
reproduction reveal, it has transformed significantly over time and
region.The clay tablet, papyrus scroll,
and codex book each were shaped by the materials at hand and the needs of
writers and readers.Those materials in
turn shaped the content with which such books were filled.The mechanical reproduction for both texts
and book objects in the industrial age and the start of the twentieth century
helped solidify the codex as an efficient, portable, marketable object,
available in hardbound or paperback covers, and distributed through networks of
bookshops, libraries, and book fairs worldwide.While we now have Kindles, digital book apps, and a number of web
services for accessing books in PDF form, the system remains relatively
unchanged:the book is a commodity.”