“Writers, artists, and public intellectuals are nearing some sort of precipice: Their audiences increasingly expect digital content to be free…Where publishing is concerned, the Internet is both midwife and executioner. It has never been easier to reach large numbers of readers, but these readers have never felt more entitled to be informed and entertained for free.”
While the article focuses largely on the financial and sales impact of the Internet on the publishing industry, it was the title that made me read it. I am intrigued that over my life time, the primary information medium of print – be it books, newspapers or magazines – has been overtaken by pixels on a screen. Digital is often cheaper to produce and more immediately accessible, but can’t be handled like a paper book.
In the past, the printed word in books has been culturally elevated to a cannon of societal truth, but as information changes so rapidly, the production time-frame of print is not longer compatible with the rate of knowledge. Books seem to be passing into decorative curiosity and a nostalgic artifact.
This is perhaps the ideal space for the artist to reclaim the book, when others turn to the digital space of blogs and Kindle. It is an opportunity to share and keep and also places this project in an interesting space: artists using the internet to birth a book.