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Wayne State University

Aim Higher

Sep 23 / scholarscooperative

Digital Publishing Trends?

In 2012, a publisher in Argentina (Eterna Cadencia) printed a book called, “The Book That Can’t Wait”, which had a lifespan of two months. The book contained works by up-and-coming authors, and once it was opened, the ink was set to self-destruct, and fade away. A few months later, readers were left with a book of empty pages. The idea behind it was to combat the problem of being too busy to read: you better hurry up and read it, before it disappears.

Does this in essence put a short lifespan on the act of reading?

There are many, many digital publishing initiatives and trends in the world today for an exhaustive amount of reasons. The word trend can imply something that’s in fashion for the moment, and typically exists for a short duration of time. So what does this mean for people involved in digital publishing who work to preserve materials and make them accessible for an extended amount of time?

Consider the digital publishing trend of high interaction reading. An example of this is Varytale, a publisher and retailer of interactive books. The reader can manipulate the content and influence the narrative. This idea is kind of like choose your own adventure books, but in a digital format.

Or consider Touch Press, whose philosophy includes, “…to create a new kind of book that makes use of emerging technology to redefine the book, reinvent publishing, and forever transform the act of reading.” These books are fee-based apps (mostly iPad or iPhone) with a goal of enhancing the reading experience via rich media.

Think of the tools you use to write a paper, or maybe to present information. Many of us choose software like Microsoft Office, or Google Docs. Other productivity tools, like Editorially, (currently in beta ), offer a plain text (and collaborative) writing environment with the idea of being able to focus on the words, and not having any concern for the way it looks. Their site suggests that the web allows options for being able to “swap ink for HTML”.

There is no doubt that developers will continue to create new software and tools for us to use to write, publish, and read, but this all seems to beg the question: is digital publishing a trend itself?

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Video about the disappearing book.