What's the Future of Book Design? (Part 1)
With e-books now outselling print titles on Amazon.com, the book business is undergoing its most radical transformation in living memory. Everyone and their literate cat has an opinion about what the industry's future holds, but what about the people who actually design books as products? How do they foresee the digital shift affecting their jobs, and their craft?
A few weeks ago, I decided to find out. With the help of my friend and former colleague Misha Beletsky (art director, Abbeville Press), I asked over fifty top designers—both inside and outside the publishing industry—a single question: What do you think book design will be like 10 years from now? This highly nonscientific survey was conducted via Facebook’s poll application, meaning that respondents could offer (and vote for) their own answers in lieu of an existing option. Here, in order, are the five answers that rose to the top:
*Not counting one voter who chose to quote David Byrne: “Same as it ever was.”
There were also a few provocative original responses that garnered only their authors’ votes. Architect Victoria Meyers predicts that in ten years, “paper books will only be for the upper classes” as in Neal Stephenson’s sci-fi novel The Diamond Age. A different kind of demographic forecast comes from the design educator Jim Craig, who believes that “book design ten years from now will be dictated by the age of the readers.” Craig elaborates:
“The older generation will continue to prefer reading print editions of books, magazines, and newspapers, while the younger generation will prefer e-books. Print editions of books will look pretty much the same as today and yesterday, while e-books will feature interactive graphics that we can't even imagine now.”
One thing to note about the top five responses is that they’re not all mutually exclusive. Taken together, they suggest a greatly reduced but still viable role for the print book, with a corresponding—and permanent—rise of the e-book as the dominant platform. What will this mean for designers from a technical and craft standpoint? The comments section of the poll provided some intriguing thoughts on that score, which I’ll share and discuss in my next post.
As for my colleague Misha, he chose the option “Book design will not change,” explaining that “the ideal appearance of a printed book as a beautiful and functional object has remained the same for over five hundred years. How short we are going to fall of this ideal in the next decade will only depend on our efforts.” He also pointed out the most encouraging result of the poll: not a single person predicted that book design will die.
[Image: Penny’s computer book from Inspector Gadget. Via Quora.com, user Tim Flagg.]
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It's one of the most consistent patterns in the unviverse. What causes it?
- Spinning discs are everywhere – just look at our solar system, the rings of Saturn, and all the spiral galaxies in the universe.
- Spinning discs are the result of two things: The force of gravity and a phenomenon in physics called the conservation of angular momentum.
- Gravity brings matter together; the closer the matter gets, the more it accelerates – much like an ice skater who spins faster and faster the closer their arms get to their body. Then, this spinning cloud collapses due to up and down and diagonal collisions that cancel each other out until the only motion they have in common is the spin – and voila: A flat disc.
It turns out, that tattoo ink can travel throughout your body and settle in lymph nodes.
In the slightly macabre experiment to find out where tattoo ink travels to in the body, French and German researchers recently used synchrotron X-ray fluorescence in four "inked" human cadavers — as well as one without. The results of their 2017 study? Some of the tattoo ink apparently settled in lymph nodes.
Image from the study.
As the authors explain in the study — they hail from Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility, and the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment — it would have been unethical to test this on live animals since those creatures would not be able to give permission to be tattooed.
Because of the prevalence of tattoos these days, the researchers wanted to find out if the ink could be harmful in some way.
"The increasing prevalence of tattoos provoked safety concerns with respect to particle distribution and effects inside the human body," they write.
It works like this: Since lymph nodes filter lymph, which is the fluid that carries white blood cells throughout the body in an effort to fight infections that are encountered, that is where some of the ink particles collect.
Image by authors of the study.
Titanium dioxide appears to be the thing that travels. It's a white tattoo ink pigment that's mixed with other colors all the time to control shades.
The study's authors will keep working on this in the meantime.
“In future experiments we will also look into the pigment and heavy metal burden of other, more distant internal organs and tissues in order to track any possible bio-distribution of tattoo ink ingredients throughout the body. The outcome of these investigations not only will be helpful in the assessment of the health risks associated with tattooing but also in the judgment of other exposures such as, e.g., the entrance of TiO2 nanoparticles present in cosmetics at the site of damaged skin."
Do you have a magnetic compass in your head?
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