Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Fun With Books

The Librarian by Giuseppe Arcimboldo
The Librarian by Giuseppe Arcimboldo

People keep on saying that paper and board, dead tree, turn-a-real-page-with-your-fingers books are dying out. I don't think so. There may be fewer of them in the future--e-books are so much better for things such as text books, manuals, and ephemera--but I think there will always be a place for books as an art form and a tactile, low-tech, no-distractions experience. Maybe we will even see a return to the elegant book making of yesteryear to give us more bang for our buck.

Meanwhile, even the most solid of books that we own in the library can take on another enjoyable dimension when paired with other technology. A number of popular children's books have emerged in recent years that have an on-line presence in addition to the books: sites that expand and enhance the story with original content not found in the book, games, quests, character studies, and chat rooms, etc. Books like the 39 Clues series and The Infinity Ring.  Even books for preschoolers can prolong the fun via a website.  Check out Scaredy Squirrel.

Transmedia--the weaving of many strands into the same story-- can go as far as costuming, fictional characters posting on Facebook, and role playing adventures out in the real world led by clues on your smart phone.

Cover of The Divided Path by Nial Kent
Published 1949 by Greenberg
This treatment isn't just for children's books. There are sites such as TruLOVEstories, an online romance hub featuring e-books, casual digital games, customized avatars, licensed merchandise, and other features, as well as sales of hard copy books. The site also offers both vintage and original romance content.  So if you run out of library romance novels, all is not lost. 

I really enjoyed some of the old covers posted on that romance site. The course of true love never did run smooth, however, as attested by these books banned in Australia over the years.

I'm a big fan of book covers and also of websites that play with book covers. One website asks, "What if one letter were dropped from the title of a book?"  Another asks, "What if best selling albums were books, instead?" And I'm asking, "What if a genre was made into cakes?" because I'm hungry that way.  Luckily there is an answer.

Of course, some people play with the whole book not just the covers.

And books past their prime needn't go to waste, either. Artist Ekaterina Panikanova "creates densely layered paintings across large spreads of old books and other documents, resulting in artwork that blurs the lines between painting, installation and collage."

So, in one form or another, books will be around for a long time, and just because a new form exists, it doesn't mean that the previous form has to die out. The forms can supplement and enhance each other. That's my story, anyway.


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