8 November 2011
Printed books offer 'romance' that digital doesn't, says expert
TORONTO—There's a certain "romance" that printed books offer that digital versions are still missing, said Craig Mod, a writer, publisher, designer and developer who spoke at the recent DesignThinkers conference in Toronto.

Mod shared a short anecdote about pulling out the same book from his bag at the same time as his female companion, which he said created a romantic moment. Digital e-readers do not offer that "chance" experience because you can essentially access any material at any time, he said.

Craig Mod at DesignThinkers

"When you pull out your Kindle, you're pulling out every book in the world," said Mod. He also said there is a "marginalization" of the book cover when it comes to the electronic format, using Amazon as an example. "The covers are thumbnails," he said. "The focus is on metrics."

The reader is "thrown" into digital books, he added. "There's no intro to it," he said. "Physical books have slip cases, a design spread, you get a sense of the paper quality. You get a sense of the time that's gone into it."

About digital magazines, he offered,  they "have intense exploration ... tappable icons, dual axis navigation. But where's the simplicity of where we came from? You shouldn't need instructions to read digital content."

However, with the wide-open possibility of digital editions, it's a fine time for those who put the books together: "There's a sense in Silicon Valley that designers are needed more than ever," he said.

He explained that trade paperback in particular have suffered from this rise of electronic editions. "But I don't know if there's much to be sad about there," he said. "Printing isn't going away, it's just getting better."
— Jeff Hayward
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