if:book london... tomorrow the stars 06.05.2008, 11:10 AM
posted by chris meade
We've now launched a website for if:book london, the British iteration of the Institute, at http://www.futureofthebook.org.uk, and that links both to this blog and one which will focus on UK activities and in particular our work with the literature sector following a very positive reception by Arts Council England to the report by Mary and I: read:write - digital possibilities for literature and the imminent launch of another report, digital livings, how new media writers do, can and could make their way in the world , commissioned by the Institute of Creative Technologies at De Montfort University. We will be making both reports available to download as soon as possible.
I think this if:book blog is wonderful, stimulating, challenging, brilliant - and so somewhat daunting to post on. It has a strong sense of itself and, tell me if you disagree, but it doesn't feel right to me to start bombarding this space with discussion of very specific issues to do with the UK literary scene and the organisations which work around it. Which isn't to say that some posts shouldn't appear in both places.
One reason I'm hesitant about writing here is uncertainty about who I'm talking to.
I would love to know more about if:book readers and wonder if some might be prepared to step forward and tell us briefly about themselves and why they keep an eye on this place.
I would love to see an anthology of if:book's best bits, in print on page or screen. People have been writing serious, lengthy essays here, some of which quickly stimulate much attention, others drift by unnoticed like leaves in the blogflow and deserve fuller consideration.
Meanwhile Sara Lloyd, Head of digital publishing at Pan Macmillan in the UK quotes if:book in a fascinating book publishers manifesto for the 21st century. You can download it from http://thedigitalist.net/?p=155. It's more evidence that the future of the book may be arriving shortly in the NOW and, having led the way up to this point, now is a good moment for the Institute to reflect further on what role(s) it wishes to play in a rapidly changing landscape, whether it should be looking much further ahead for next big futurethings or focusing on specific interventions in distribution and creation in the digital here and now.
However on the 'it'll-never-catch-on' front, Doctor Who, Britain's favourite time traveller, is trapped on a gigantic planet-sized library on BBC 1 this week. Electronic librarians oversee rows of very conventional looking dusty tomes and death lurks in the shadows. The Doctor has already told us how, despite all the advances in technology, future life forms still love nothing better than the smell and feel of a proper old book. No sign of the great grandchildren of Kindle here yet then, but it is only episode one. More next week!
Rachel Zakariasen on June 7, 2008 8:04 AM:
One of your regular readers here, just stepping forward to let you know who I am and why I pay attention to if:book.
First and foremost, I am a reader and a writer, and on a purely personal level, I am simply fascinated by the ways new media has enabled us to tell our own personal stories, co-create stories, and develop community. The exposure to new projects and innovative storytelling experiments provides a treasure trove of goodies to sort through.
Professionally, as co-owner of Zakelro Story Studio, which was created specifically as a place for exploring the intersection of story, play, and community, the thoughts and ideas discussed here at if:book are extremely relevant to our work. You seem to have particularly sharp insight into where things are going, and while you are talking about the evolution of the "book," at the heart of what you discuss is the evolution of how we tell stories (in books, in games, on the web, etc.) and how that impacts our culture. I have found this to be nothing short of inspirational, and an invaluable resource for staying current on where things are headed.
Thank you for all your effort!
Karina Mikhli on June 8, 2008 12:05 AM:
I'm a relatively new reader and am a publishing professional very much interested in the evolution of the "book."
I love that bit about Dr. Who. Somehow I don't believe the Kindle will be featured in upcoming episodes, but I can be wrong...
Jim Watts on June 8, 2008 1:44 PM:
As one of the people behind the Iconic Books Blog, I read if:book from a contrarian perspective. Rather than trying to figure out what the book is becoming, we're more worried about why it isn't changing very fast after all, or--in words you quote from Doctor Who--why many (most?) people "still love nothing better than the smell and feel of a proper old book." If:books' focus on new developments often serves up grist for our mill, such as Ben Vershbow's description of the 88,000 wooden print blocks in a Korean monastery or your notice here of the Doctor Who episode. I appreciate very much your contributions to the debate about if, how, whether and why the book is changing, even (especially) when they prompt me to draw different conclusions.
Alejandro Martín on June 8, 2008 9:43 PM:
I am editor of a book magazine (www.piedepagina.com) and a digital library (www.lablaa.org), and I find many interesant issues here to think about and ideas to develop projects.
James on June 9, 2008 6:19 AM:
Without wanting to sound snarky, I've always thought that with blogs, the writing finds the audience. I've no idea who the vast majority of my readers are, but I've always written what I've found interesting, and the readers who've agreed have come with me. Trying to work out who your audience are, then writing for them, is a guaranteed way of restricting your view of what's worth reporting, and failing to attract new readers.
Robert on June 9, 2008 8:02 AM:
I started to read this blog after a seminar on the future of the book held at the Bishops Institute back in March. I'm extremely new to the publishing industry (work experience stage) and trying to find my way in but I read this to keep an eye on ideas and developments. Very informative so far. Thank you.
tim bulkeley on June 10, 2008 12:21 AM:
I'm an academic in a "literary" field, so though the literature I study and teach is 2-3,000 years old the processes of reading and writing interest me and if:book has more interesting posts on these topics than most. Also I write hypertexts (commentary on ancient texts) so tools like Sophie and CommentPress interest me.
But enough about us, carry on telling us about you ;-)
Alain Pierrot on June 11, 2008 8:35 AM:
I have been involved for (too) many years in electronic publishing, met with the Voyager Company during the "interactive multimedia" bubble and followed Bob Stein's ventures ever since...
For the moment being, I work for i2S, a French based Digital Vision company, where a division is dedicated to book and legacy documents scanners, and APSED, my own consulting activity for 'Advanced Publishing Solutions, Engineering, Design'.
I have always been interested by information technology as an opportunity to give users a better reading and cultural experience and keep a close look on mobile devices and software in that field.
Lisa Spangenberg on June 11, 2008 11:12 PM:
I used to work at Voyager, and followed the Expanded Book Toolkit, sort of, to work for Night Kitchen. I'm a newly minted Ph.D. in English, and am a production manager at a company that creates multimedia content for people in the early stages of dementia.
I think books, then and now, ancient, medieval, or modern, are containers for data. I have read if: book from the very early days.
Pete Tiarks on June 14, 2008 2:14 PM:
Doing a Ph.D about copyright and digital texts, and find that if:book is by far the most interesting thing on my reader for that. Keep doing what you're doing.
Anyway, I'll be adding the org.uk feed.
Emma Payne on July 11, 2008 8:35 AM:
I'm a writer and very interested in the new possibilities opening up at the edges of literature and technology. Very new to reading if:book but it seems to be covering a lot of the subjects I'm thinking about, so will be looking in regularly.