1 Mar 2011

The Beauty of Books (this is for you tablet users)

The excellent 4 part BBC 4 series, The Beauty of Books, finished last night with some timely observations on the role of cover design in paperback book publishing against the backdrop of the rise and, seemingly inexorable, rise of the e-reader. The previous episode, on the role of illustration in books, also beautifully demonstrated the role of image, as well as content, in the choosing and enjoyment of literature.

The Kindle and iPad are probably the most important advent in publishing since movable type and it'll be fascinating to see how the industry adapts. Much as vinyl lovers bemoan the advent of the MP3, and the newspaper industry struggle to come to terms with the internet, so book publishers are looking at the e-reader phenomenon with none of them yet to devise a clearly workable strategy in response.

Impressive as the shiny new electronic toys are, I'm a sucker for a well designed book cover and have many on my shelves which have drawn me to pick up authors I probably would never have heard of. However, much as the music industry has largely abandoned vinyl with fewer and fewer pressing plants left around the world producing limited edition and limited release 12" & 7" singles so it's hard to see how the publishing industry will resist its own digital revolution.

Personally, I'd be sad to see a day when the likes of this cease to be published.