Future of the Book
Future of the Book
The Future of the Book is a design exploration aimed at inspiring readers, publishers and authors about the possibilities of digital reading: Alice turns storytelling on its head by making narratives non-linear and participatory; Coupland makes book discovery a social activity; Nelson connects books to commentary, critique and contextual information.
Jan Moorman: This gets me excited. I can direct the story. It looks like there are a lot of avenues to explore the storyline. Todd Wilkens: This tells the design story really clearly. These are interesting ideas, and it would be great to see them explored for real, in functioning applications.
Future of the Book
1. Summarize the problem you set out to solve. What was the challenge posed to you? Did it get you excited and why?
As more people consume pages in pixels, we wondered why the way that we discover and consume the written word still adheres to the analog, page-turning model. We asked: what happens when the reading experience catches up with new technologies?
2. What point of view did you bring to the challenge? Was there anything additional that you wanted to achieve with this project or bring to this project that was not part of the original brief?
The team looked at how digital and analog books currently are being read, shared and collected, as well as at trends, business models and consumer behavior within related fields. Three opportunities for design stood out as especially impactful:
New narratives - How can we rethink how stories are told, in order to help readers participate in fictional worlds and more deeply engage with stories about places, people and events?
Social reading - How can we help readers discover new reading opportunities through the people around them, and share what they read with these people as well as with the larger world?
The world around the book – How can we leverage the fact that books are catalytic anchor points for broader discussions, exploration and research?
3. When designing this project, whose interests did you consider? (Discuss various stakeholders, audiences, retailing, manufacturing, assembly, distribution, etc., for example.)
Three concepts were developed:
With Alice, the story world starts bleeding into the everyday life of the reader. Real-world challenges, like acting on a phone call from the lead character, or participating in photo based scavenger hunts, unlock new parts of the story, and turn other readers into collaborators or competitors. Alice is a platform for authors to experiment with narratives, to allow their stories to transcend media, and to engage fans in the storytelling process.
Coupland makes it easy for busy professionals to stay on top of industry must-reads. Businesses can assign book budgets to their employees and build collective libraries through a unique group-licensing model. Personal recommendations, aggregation of reading patterns and the ability to follow inspiring individuals and groups help ensure that Coupland users always are tapped into the latest and most inspiring content within and outside of the organization.
Nelson reinforces the role of books as carriers of knowledge and insight. Readers can explore polarizing material and see whose word currently has the greatest impact on popular opinion and debate. Layers with connected commentary, news and fact-checking now augments the core book content, providing debate, greater context, and higher degree of scrutiny.
4. Describe the rigor that informed your design. (Research, ethnography, subject matter experts, materials exploration, technology, iteration, testing, etc., as applicable.) If this was a strictly research or strategy project, please provide more detail here.
The design team kept two strong beliefs:
- Long-hand writing should be kept to encourage immersion, deep reading and reflection. Any temptation to move books closer to the bite-sized character of other digital media must be fought fiercely.
- A new digital context comes with its own set of opportunities and our solutions should be truly adapted to their new environment and not just emulate analog qualities on screen.
The three concepts were designed with their own visual expressions, and a simple storytelling format was used to make sure that the work was accessible and engaging, well suited to spark discussions, and inspiring to anyone interested in the future of books, publishing and media.
5. What is the social value of your design? (Gladdening, educational, economic, paradigm-shifting, sustainable, labor-mindful, environmental, cultural, etc.) How does it earn its keep in the world?
6. If you could have done one thing differently with the project, what would you have changed?