I have to admit, I’m quite looking forward to Jonathan Safran Foer’s experimental book. This article does a great job of talking about why he did it, and what he hopes to get out of it. I’ve seen art books done like this – cutting out bits of pages to make images or reveal certain words – and I’ve actually made cut-page books myself. I’m probably going to end up getting a copy of The Tree of Codes just to have it, and to see how Foer makes the unusual premise work – if, indeed, he’s able to, because making a coherent narrative by slashing holes, literally, into another (already surrealist) narrative is…well, that’s tricksy, my pets.
But I think the thing that jumped out at me most from that article was this:
“It’s a way of remembering something about books,” he says. “I think there’s going to be something that happens now, where books move in two directions, one toward digitized formats and one toward remembering what’s nice about the physicality of them.” Several tech-publishing gurus have opined that books might follow Radiohead’s In Rainbows model: downloads at low prices, along with limited-edition collectors’ objects for hard-core fans.
I’m pretty sure I agree. I suspect that mass-market, in the future, will be largely digital, with some POD printing to go with it, for the most popular books. Then there will be lovely, limited-edition books, things that you just want to hold and cuddle and cherish. There may be hardbacks as a tier in between; there are enough hardcore bibliophiles out there that I think the hardback market will survive, even as mass-market turns pixellated.
All of this, really, simply makes me want to work even harder to make Candlemark & Gleam succeed. One of my very first visions for the press was to make sure that we would someday offer print editions – green, sustainable, POD editions, not giving in to the horrible and wasteful models of current print publishing – and also handbound limited editions of all print works. Because while stories can be told and transmitted in any format, and I really do believe that digital is the wave of the future (though we haven’t seen what format or technique will reign supreme there), I also believe that books have a place…and digital content transmission is not a book, and damnit, I want to produce lovely, tactile, cherishable objects that contain good stories.