Evolution of the Book

weston woodsI was drawn to librarianship, as most of us were, because I loved (and love) books or, more specifically, a great story.  Although my career started many years ago, even then technology in the form of filmstrips was intertwined.  As an elementary school librarian I found Weston Wood filmstrips were a wonderful way of having a class be able to focus on a picture book.  It never occurred to me that these were a part of the evolution of the book, and I am beginning to wonder where we are headed and how quickly we are getting there.

True, books have been evolving since the codex replaced the scroll which was an improvement over clay and wax tablets.  These developments however all moved at a rather slow pace.  Gutenberg’s invention of the printing press around 1440 was a huge leap forward and through the years, modifications were made to speed the process.Printing press

Everything changed with advent of computers.  The technology not only improved the printing process, it also made possible more creative fonts and typesetting.  E-readers took longer than the market first thought it would, but Amazon’s Kindle proved to be the game changer people were looking for.  Now libraries have both print and e-books in their collections, but the content is still recognizable as a book.

wild bornInformational nonfiction books are appearing with links to websites promoting interactivity, and several fiction titles ask readers to enter into the story by going to a website.  (I am thinking primarily of Brandon Mull’s Wild Born the first in a major multi-author series[Scholastic, 2013, 202 p. 978-0-545-52243-4] which I just reviewed for the February/March 2014 issue of School Librarian’s Workshop.)  In both these situations the book is still the basic format, but this might be changing.

Recent developments are suggesting a new landscape-altering evolution is on the way.  I have been hearing of books that began as video games and now it seems that a video game is functioning as a book http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2013/11/this-video-game-could-revolutionize-publishing-and-reading/281765.  Whether or not Device 6 takes off, it seems to me this new mash-up is a prelude to what is coming.  I cannot begin to envision how the book will evolve in the next few years, but I am convinced what will always matter is the power of story—no matter the media or platform.

What do you think?

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