February 10, 2004

Aesthetics of Book Culture

Short history of books:

  • Tablet
  • Scroll - read aloud, exclusive
  • Codex - used to be read aloud, now read silently. Used to be rare, now you can buy them at grocery stores.
  • e-book - read (scanned?) silently, exclusive to people with technology
    As society became more literate, owning a book became less special. Now books are mostly mass market items, whereas only the educated or elite in the society held books before.

    However, the ability for anyone to own a book and the industry that grew around publishing helped change reading a book from an oral, communal activity to a silent individual act.

    Books are used to record events, tell stories, educate and entertain. That much hasn't changed, even though the media on which words are recorded has.

    Also, you learn from word of mouth or book clubs and critics what is "good" and worthy to be read or studied. That then may determine the number of printings a book might have. Did anyone really read certain books before Oprah gave her stamp of approval?

      Discussion questions:
    1. What hasn't changed about book culture?
    2. How do you participate in book culture?
    3. What determines a good book?
    Posted by Julie Young at February 10, 2004 11:32 PM
  • Comments

    Your presentation did a great job of explaining book culture. One of the things you pointed out was that there are not many children's e-books. I definitely agree with you. It is very unlikely that a child between the ages of, let's say, 3 and 9 would enjoy an e-book. Children need tangible objects. There are so many great children's books out there that offer so much interaction. Pop-up books, flip-the-tab books, paint by number books, and books that have things for the child to feel are all aspects that e-books can not offer a child. While I do think people will definitely publish some children's e-books, I do not think they will ever be as valuable as tangible books.

    Posted by: Jamee at February 12, 2004 11:26 AM
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