Why should designers of digital reading environments study the history of the book? What can the continuities and discontinuities — the successes and failures — of new developments in the book’s long history teach us about its possible futures? Questions such as these often go unasked in commercial e-book design and other domains that emphasize technical innovation as their only criterion for evaluating the past. However, new reading environments challenge us to understand the role of material forms in meaning-making, and to situate e-books and digital reading devices within the changing history of books and reading. This article explores that rationale as embodied by the Architectures of the Book (ArchBook) project, an online, open-access, and peer-reviewed collection of richly illustrated essays about specific design features in the history of the book.


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pp. 20-42
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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