"The generations to come of age in the days of digital publishing and reading on screens have a much more complicated relationship with images. The human eye-brain system is capable of reading a large number of high quality images in a matter of split seconds, and this, alongside the hand-eye coordination—think about the pleasure of a touch screen versus inky newspaper pages—is rapidly developing to mirror our changing habits of consuming information. So much so that the contemporary heightened sensitivity to the way we read images can lead to an ability to, at times, ignore the quality of the images when inserted into a text, the way our brain glides over a typo in the flow of reading. The way we read images online is only one thing these magazines deal with in the process of publishing, but it is surely an element that dictates a large portion of the reading experience of these publications.
When requesting images for a print publication, some guidelines are quite clear: The digital image needs to be 300dpi, it needs to be of a certain size, measured in inches and centimeters rather than pixels, and (at least usually) the rights for it need to be cleared. Online publishing muddles all of these. While some of the publications contacted for this article attested that they have a photo editor or image editor (the leap to “image editor” in order to describe publishing in the online sphere is slowly being made. As Whitaker noted, “It points to an opening up of the field to include the non-photographic image”), their role is more curatorial than that of a traditional image editor. Are there any rules as to which images are published, the way they are retrieved, and their integration in the magazines? Surely, many images are harvested from a variety of online repository, Google Images being the obvious example. This nods to the flattening of the digital image in a complicated way. On screen, the different kinds of images—say, film stills, digital or analogue photography, digital renderings, and so forth—can be quite similar. While we are becoming increasingly visually literate, few are the people who truly interact with the distinction between the digital image and the physical print. No one is stunned anymore by the idea of a collector buying a photograph based on an image sent to him or her via email from a gallery. The printing process—moving from the screen to the physical object, that is—becomes a formality.”
Mossless Issue 1 has been selected by Rachel Morrison and David Senior of the MoMA to be a part of Millenium Magazines, opening Monday February 20th in their Library building. As one of the 100 experimental magazines that are being showcased I think I can speak for all of us and say that we’re really excited for this. From their website:
This survey of experimental art and design magazines published since 2000 explores the various ways in which contemporary artists and designers utilize the magazine format as an experimental space for the presentation of artworks and text. Throughout the 20th century, international avant-garde activities in the visual arts and design were often codified first in the informal context of a magazine or journal. This exhibition, drawn from the holdings of the MoMA Library, follows the practice into the 21st century. The works on view represent a broad array of international titles within this genre, from community-building newspapers to image-only photography magazines to conceptual design projects. The contents illustrate a diverse range of image-making, editing, design, printing, and distribution practices. There are obvious connections to the past lineage of artists’ magazines and little architecture and design magazines of the 20th century, as well as a clear sense of the application of new techniques of image-editing and printing methods. Assembled together, these contemporary magazines provide a first-hand view into these practices and represents the MoMA Library’s sustained effort to document and collect this medium.
What publishers count on from bookstores is the browsing effect. Surveys indicate that only a third of the people who step into a bookstore and walk out with a book actually arrived with the specific desire to buy one.
“That display space they have in the store is really one of the most valuable places that exists in this country for communicating to the consumer that a book is a big deal,” said Madeline McIntosh, president of sales, operations and digital for Random House.
What’s more, sales of older books — the so-called backlist, which has traditionally accounted for anywhere from 30 to 50 percent of the average big publisher’s sales — would suffer terribly.
“For all publishers, it’s really important that brick-and-mortar retailers survive,” said David Shanks, the chief executive of the Penguin Group USA. “Not only are they key to keeping our physical book business thriving, there is also the carry-on effect of the display of a book that contributes to selling e-books and audio books. The more visibility a book has, the more inclined a reader is to make a purchase.”
Carolyn Reidy, president and chief executive of Simon & Schuster, says the biggest challenge is to give people a reason to step into Barnes & Noble stores in the first place. “They have figured out how to use the store to sell e-books,” she said of the company. “Now, hopefully, we can figure out how to make that go full circle and see how the e-books can sell the print books.”
IL: One trope of Project Projects’ book designs is the effort to make visible or expose the issues being dealt with by the contents, whether through typographical selection or the physical construction of the book.
PK: A book ought to not only document its contents but actually perform or enact its contents. In an ideal case, those things are so seamlessly integrated that sometimes it’s hard to tease out the content from the form.
IL: I’m curious about your comment that the best space for contemplative long-form reading is still the physical book, in light of Triple Canopy’s attempt to make a case for an immersive digital reading experience.
PK: One of the things I find commendable about Triple Canopy is that it questions and is critical of accepted paradigms, and is trying to create a Web space for reading that is contemplative. But this doesn’t always work better than the codex, and there are many text pieces in Invalid Formatthat are much more legible in this form. Of course, there are also interactive pieces on the website that are quite hard to translate to print. In those cases, the book becomes a reference. Hopefully this sense of translation between mediums will work in two directions—there is artwork that obviously can’t be represented in a black and white book, and so you end up being led back to the website. The experience becomes richer and more recursive through this.
Apple is slated to announce the fruits of its labor on improving the use of technology in education at its special media event on Thursday, January 19. While speculation has so far centered on digital textbooks, sources close to the matter have confirmed to Ars that Apple will announce tools to help create interactive e-books—the “GarageBand for e-books,” so to speak—and expand its current platform to distribute them to iPhone and iPad users.
At the same time, however, authoring standards-compliant e-books (despite some promises to the contrary) is not as simple as running a Word document of a manuscript through a filter. The current state of software tools continues to frustrate authors and publishers alike, with several authors telling Ars that they wish Apple or some other vendor would make a simple app that makes the process as easy as creating a song in GarageBand.
Our sources say Apple will announce such a tool on Thursday.
The capacity to make design move in multiple dimensions is no longer a novelty; it’s a necessity. That’s because technology has forced graphic design to be time-and-space–based. Understanding the storytelling arc is essential to making analog and digital design alike. Knowing how to move the viewer’s overtaxed eye from point A to B to Z is a skill that was once relatively minor. Increased data flow has turned narration into the primary function of design. Graphic designers have always thought about their audience, but now “user experience” is their mantra.
@peterainsworth - ‘There is a definite sense that digital media has great potential. It is really about using the right tool for the job. I would say that there will be a diverse and eclectic future combining both; maybe even in the same physical object’
@appleJuice_Mag - ’The e-book might not compete as such, because it caters to a different audience. Though that’s not to say it won’t achieve!’
@andreybogush - ’New devices have wonderful screens – for some photographs it can be much nicer medium than traditional paper-based one.’
@phaidon - ’You still can’t beat having a beautifully bound & laid out book just waiting to be opened+explored to viewing images on a screen. Plus, we’ve not found an e-reader yet that has that wonderful new book smell.’
@marcwilsonPhoto – ‘Ebook immediate & with own interactive possibilities but never a replacement for cherished beauty+texture of a physical book.’
@rzyrzy - ’While ebooks are great &convenient, it just wouldn’t have as inviting a presence as a photobook on my shelf or coffee table.’
@blinkzine - ”I agree, but not a concern because bad books will be lost and forgotten…”
@whiteheadollie – “A ‘book’ should be an artifact, and traditionally it had to be earned, now anybody can do it and this has lowered quality.”
@emiliatelese - ”Quality can be plainly seen through looking at the context in which art is produced. No context = shallow art.”
@rzyrzy - “Quality work is still being produced, it just probably takes a lot more digging to find it now.”
@hello_marcbaker - ”Yes. I think the lack of quality is born from the want to publish something quickly, but I don’t think it’s a concern.”
@caferoyalbooks – “Yes…and no. Everything is becoming easier and so more people are able to do more things. Publishing is one, taking photos is another. It doesn’t concern me. @hello_marcbaker I think speed can bring about lack or quality, however it is very possible to produce something high quality, fast. @whiteheadollie Gill, Gottlund, Fowler, ..all make amazing books. Amazing content and quality. That’s one way of working, I actually quite like disposable / ephemeral materials, especially when it’s made to the highest of standards – that’s why I do what I do. I don’t fetishise over litho printed hardbacks [not that theres anything wrong with that, it’s just one way of working, of many].”