“Playing against Type” by Doug Gibson – review of Gutenberg’s Fingerprint: Paper, Pixels and the Lasting Impression of Books by Merilyn Simonds
The final section of the book allows Merilyn Simonds, the early adopter, to predict where books are going. She notes that readers are now “encouraged to explore and engage with the text. The reader’s role is no longer passive, it is active, even though he or she can’t actually affect the outcome.”
The latest catchphrase-which may well be obsolete before this book is printed-is “augmented reality,” or AR: virtual images laid over real ones to create an “augmented” display. AR integrates graphics, sounds, touch (haptics), and smell into a real-world environment, blurring the line between the actual and the computer-generated.
“Smell.” Really? Hold that unlikely thought.
The key phrase here, I think, is “which may well be obsolete before this book is printed.” Certainly, anyone reading this book to learn about the future of reading will find that while Merilyn Simonds’s book raises many questions, it is too sensible to produce many confident predictions. Although it is notable that she has put a lot of time and effort in turning her out-of-print paper books into digital e-books.
A final detail, one that Bob Gottlieb [American editor and publisher] would like: the endpapers for the precious little book are specially created, with the help of the artist Emily Cook, from paper whose fibre comes from daylilies picked from Merilyn Simonds’s garden. In discussing this process, Merilyn the Essayist tells us that way back, about 1780, Matthias Koops in London decided that for printing books, paper made from straw would be ideal. Nicholas Basbanes, in his 2013 book, On Paper: The Everything of Its Two-Thousand-Year History (published by Gottlieb’s old company, Knopf) writes about handling a book based on straw. After more than 200 years, the paper still held “the agreeable aroma-of fresh-cut grass.”
Worth holding the thought to catch that whiff.
And so for day 1961