I came across the conversation on the future of the print book several years ago, when publishers, educators, writers and readers began to seriously wonder: what will the be the future of books? The question centers around the changing landscape of technology, which makes portable technology an affordable platform to distribute multiple books to readers.
The following video humoriously depicts how the printed book transformed the context of the Middle Ages: Middle Ages Tech Support
The iPad, e-readers, mobile phones and other allied technologies are playing a major role in expanding the idea of how and what a good book is made of.
Once we were only capable of considering the information individually distributed through printed books, we now live in a world with gadgets reminiscent of the Jetsons with increased multimedia content including embedded audio, video, commenting from readers to communicate with authors, and haptic interactions that make text and physical interactions possible. Our vision of the future of books is rapidly changing and will likely go far beyond what we once imagined as a good book.
I recently came across an interesting Kickstarter project led by an author attempting to do two things that interrupt traditional models of the book. I find the efforts of Anna Vital, the author of Becoming an Entrepreneur, interesting, for the nature of her project has the possibility of expanding our ideas of the textbook. Vital’s project is an infographic book that provides a visual guide to persons interested in developing a startup company. In a sense this project reminds me of great workshops that were placed in print, for example The Artist Way.
Vital’s work poses questions like: How can we think about sharing knowledge and teaching readers to make connections? and How to make the reading experience reflective with the techniques of design? The interface plays an important role just as the actual facts and exposition. Further, as Vital explains in an interview on the project published by Women 2.0, her personal experiences as a student with dyslexia inspired and informed her to make the project multimodal — aesthetic, interactive and dynamic.
As an educator, I am very interested in following the design and development of new texts and learning tools. I will be following this project closely to learn about how the digital version of Becoming an Entrepreneur varies from the print version. I’d love to observe how readers understand the content in these two contexts (print and digital). Which one–print or digital–offers more affordances to readers who are more visual or gravitate toward making nonlinear connections to ideas and information. The future of the book offers so many possibilities. Here is one book to watch, read more about the Becoming an Entrepreneur book project: