topic: electronic texts

anchoring digital texts

A core advantage of digital texts over printed ones is that they remain fluid. Printing a digital text fixes it like a fly in amber. However, a text that exists entirely in a digital form is vulnerable to change, whether accidental or deliberate. If a time came when a printed copy of Moby Dick no longer existed, there would be nothing to stop the integrity of that text being degraded. Even if an accurate digital […]

the trouble with skeuomorphs

Apple's skeuomorphic calendar design

“Skeumorph” is a term I only came across recently – and like many such terms, once you learn of its existence, it ties up a set of things you already knew about, in a bundle that gives you a better grasp on that issue than you had before. Once aware of it, you start to see it everywhere. Skeumorph is defined by the online Oxford Dictionary as: an object or feature which imitates the design […]

digital texts: a return to aspects of an oral tradition?

storyteller...

Ebooks are the latest stage of a process that began with the invention of writing. The ability to write thoughts and stories down allowed their distribution across space and time: a storyteller no longer needed to be present for his message to be communicated. These advantages are obvious, but there is also a profound disadvantage: that a text is a fossil of the author’s message, and that, disconnected from its living source, it can no […]

art by committee

A friend of mine sent me this article and asked me what I thought about it… Well, I champion all kinds of advances in technology – not least the advent of the ebook – however there is the ever present temptation that because we can do something that we should do it. The creeping digitisation of everything – from music to video, and now books – makes all of these media infinitely malleable to anyone […]

naked books

the old and the new...

Once upon a time books wore nothing more than a leather jacket. This could be decorated, it’s true, and be inscribed with the title and author’s name; brands burned into an animal’s hide. More recently, books began wearing paper covers sporting bold designs, but also an ever increasing baggage of quotes and comments and general blurb. Though this clothing can serve to make a book into a seductive and glamorous object, it seems to me […]

ebooks – a superior aesthetic?

Let me whisper to you a heresy: ebooks may be aesthetically superior to paper books. There, I’ve said it. Before they come for me, to burn me as a witch, let me try to explain what I mean. First I would like to distinguish two different functional components of the paper book: the paper book as machine and the paper book as a (complex) surface that bears text. Though it is the latter that concerns […]

the vanishing thickness of books

[update: been meaning to put a link to this Robert McCrumb article in the Guardian that seems to agree with my thoughts in this post.] A few days ago I discovered that the book I’m currently working on (working title: Matryoshka) is not in fact a novel, but rather a novella. Initially I was rather dismayed. After some investigation I realized that of course it was a novella – not only because it is going […]

the digital revolution

This article Jason Pinter (though, previously this was attributed to Jessie Kunhardt) has a point, but he’s not really saying anything that we didn’t know. What he doesn’t address is the ways in which ebooks ‘could’ expand the reading market. Not only in the obvious ways – providing easy access (distributively) to texts, portability, searchability, the ability to attach notes – but also in less-obvious ways such as the ability when reading non-fiction to access […]