I’m fascinated with the metamorphoses that books and the book publishing and distribution industry is going through. I’m interested in books as objects (see also my “Menlo Park” post from several days ago), and I think that while texts themselves will go their own digital route into the ever-expanding and changing world of e-reading, print books, while still read as such, will become something more like art objects (not that they aren’t already, in some circles, but I’d like to see “art books” appreciated as something more than either historical artifacts squirreled away in archives, or books bound between art-school covers collaged from handmade oatmeal paper).
Is this possible in a world where self-publishing becomes the norm? I’d like to think that both readers and self-publishing writers will develop a more subtle appreciation for the differences in book construction and design.
But prognostication is often advocacy behind a guise of speculation. Maybe I’m advocating for a different kind of attention to books. In this scenario, book designers will become more important. Here is one: Jim Tierney, featured in this year’s Print Magazine’s “20 under 30.” His book covers seems to draw from the 20th century’s best book designs and lettering.