At first I found the aesthetics of using a recycled medium, mainly pages torn from textbooks and newspaper broadsheets, fun and exciting to peruse. It reminded me a bit of the early Soviet poster artists who did their work on brown paper bags, or whatever they could find, and I have always admired the revolutionary look it gave their pieces. After the novelty wore off though, I found it a little tiring to read with the opposing typefaces fighting with the vertical direction of the background. Sometimes I found the background text overpowering the storyline and drawing my attention away from the text to the background noise. I would have to reread the author’s text because I had drifted to the substory. Other times, there was so much black on the page that I had a hard time deciphering the author’s words. The piece is probably more powerful on paper than on my MacBook Pro screen, since the pages have a lot of texture and thickness to them. But that is my personal preference for the printed text, not the projected.
I find the history lesson he tells of the early days of printed work, and how it was perceived by the manuscript printers, to be quite interesting and well laid out. It showed that whenever there is a major disruption to a somewhat settled and controlled market, that the elite, in this case the Literati, can’t see what effect it will have on them, so they poo-poo it and relegate it to the common and unworthy. But as always, while the old guard ignores the new, the new guard upends their existence and proves to be a more potent force than expected. Parallel’s can be drawn to a lot of today’s media industry. First there were movies, upended by television. Then FOX and Cable waylaid the dominance of the Big Three, ABC, NBC, and CBS. And now today we have Internet providers streaming shows without a program schedule, single handedly rewriting the rulebook of television advertising.
Print is going through he same revulsions right now with the advent of personal tablets and the rise of the books online. The change in the publishing business was fast and furious, destroying some companies’ balance sheets, while birthing and entire set of new players in the field. There are calls that the paper book is dead, and that the future belongs to tablets. My feeling is that an industry as entrenched in our lives as paper books is will not die quickly, but will transition to electronic books as the customer base demands. I for one will have to have my paper books pried from my hands, but my children, also lover of books, have a more fungible definition of a book and that includes the electronic variety. Fortunately for me, photo books always look better in print.