The book isn’t dead, it just has new friends

So the first of my reflections on completing my digital scholarship book can probably be filed under 'No shit, Sherlock':

The book is a good format for some ideas 

I have suggested that books and articles have had a monopoly as the format for the dissemination of ideas, and new media liberate us from this somewhat. In my case the book has grown out of stuff I've been blogging over the past 4 years or so, but it isn't just a load of blog posts bundled together (whatever you may think). The length and format of a book is a very good means of both exploring ideas in depth and pulling together various strands that have been rather fragmented. Who knew eh? One of the points I make (repeatedly, ad nauseum) is that we now have alternatives, where there were previously limited options. It is not the case that the book will disappear, or is dead, but that we have alternatives now to expressing and sharing ideas. Is an article, a blog post, a video, a slidecast, a podcast or conference presentation the best? Sometimes the book really is the best format. 

Perhaps more interesting is not which one of these you choose, but the combination of them. What is the boundary of the book? Is it the physical object? What about the shared comments and highlights on Kindle? Then there will be related media, blogs, twitter conversations. The decision is less about which sole method you select but rather which one you place at the center of this distributed knowledge bundle. 

5 Comments

  1. My 16 month old son is currently learning to talk. Just last week he pointed at my iPhone and shouted “book!”.
    I don’t blame him. It is about the right size and it has pictures and writing on it.
    I think the more interesting question raised by your post is: what is a book?
    The meaning of words evolve. I think my son may be on to something.

  2. Martin says:

    Hi Jose – yes I think that’s right, and I’ll explore it in more detail tomorrow’s post. Questions such as what is a book, and why write a book reveal that we have alternatives now.

  3. Alan Levine says:

    Of course your book is different 😉
    The boundaries of what makes a book sure are ripe to change- hopefully it is more than an ISBN.
    I like Steven Levy’s definition “When you get past the pulp and glue, a book is a delivery system for an author’s vision.”
    http://www.wired.com/magazine/2010/09/pr_levy_kindle/

  4. Yes indeed, I like to adapt a quote from Mark Amidon originally intended to offer an alternative definition of language.
    “[A book] is the means of getting an idea from my brain into yours without surgery.”
    Rather apt, I’d say.

  5. Martin says:

    @Alan – of course my book is different! Whereas most books are one idea spread over 80K words, mine is no idea spread over that range.

Leave a Reply

css.php