Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Future of the Book

The future of the printed book is a thought that is probably always at the backs of our minds, as writers, as editors, as readers. American Letters & Commentary's newest issue is dedicated to this very topic. "Will technology increase access to literature or restrict it to those who can afford new technologies?" ask Co-Editors Catherine Kasper and David Ray Vance. "Will paper bound books become art objects for antiquarians, restricted to museums and wealthy collectors? Will producing electronic media prove more or less hazardous to the environment as compared with paper production for printed books?"

This special issue features essays by Joan Retallack and Ander Monson on the subject, and Dimitri Anastasopoulos, Christine Hume, Dave Kress, and Christina Millettii contribute a collaborative piece titled "Story Net" which "examines the concept of 'tomorrow.'"

And then there is contributing art by Brian Dettmer that you really have to see. He is a book artist. "The richness and depth of the book is universally respected yet often undiscovered as the monopoly of the form and relevance of their information fades over time," he writes. "By altering physical forms of information and shifting preconceived functions, new and unexpected roles emerge." He explains his process as such: "I work with knives, tweezers and surgical tools to carve one page at a time, exposing each layer while cutting around ideas and images of interest . . . My work is a collaboration with the existing material and its past creators and the completed pieces expose new relationships of the book's internal elements exactly where they have been since their original conception."

Other poetry and prose contributors in the rest of the issue include Eric Anderson, Hadara Bar-Nadav, Denise Bergman, Thea Brown, Jennifer Chapis, Suzanne Cleary, Elizabeth Cross, Jesse DeLong, Dan George, AB Gorham, Richard Greenfield, Derek Gromadzki, Kathleen Hellen, Russell Jaffe, Christopher Kondrich, Brandon Krieg, Jason Labbe, Megan Levad, rob mclennan, B.Z. Niditch, Simon Perchik, Marthe Reed, John Phillip Santos, Anne Shaw, Kent Shaw, Carmen Giménez Smith, Jason Snyder, D.E. Steward, Josh Wardrip, Nicholas YB Wong, and Amy Wright.