I don’t think it’s any kind of secret that I love books. Without a doubt, some of my favorite books are produced by Taschen.
I’d send you their website but the beauty of Taschen books is their physical presence.
Actually, I will send you to their website but it just doesn’t hold a candle to holding one of their productions in real life. Just click here.
And that is the point herein. While there is no doubt in my mind that eBooks are going to explode over the course of the next decade – between all the great eReading devices available (and still to come out ) and the fact that every Tom, Dick, Jane, Joanna and Harry can now easily self-publish their own work – it’s inevitable that the realm of digital publishing will grow, grow, grow.
But are printed books, by default, then going to disappear? Au contraire mon frere! I prognosticate that printed books are about to elevate their game!
Taschen represents this to me. If physical books are going to make it in their next iteration, they are going to have to offer something more than what can be offered with “mere” digital text.
I mean really, am I the only one who is sick and tired of pathetically crafted books that use low quality paper, unimaginative layouts, undersized fonts, ink that screams “rub me too hard and you know I’ll smudge” and so and so on? Far too many books today have a production value one would imagine occurs inside of a windowless room governed by heartless, artless bean counters. It’s as if publishers have gotten so sloppy they have forgotten one of the golden rules every great chef never forgets.
Don’t believe me. Ask the guy who sells parsley for a living. Take away the value of presentation to a fine meal and parsley sales drop through the floor.
But here comes Taschen. Digital text will never be able to replicate what they do. I realized this as I was reading a story about the creation of SUMO, a literary landmark that billed itself as the most expensive book ever produced.
$15,000 per copy. Only 10,200 made. Each signed by the author, 464 pages, 66 pounds, a piece of genuine engineering. (Note: if anyone has ever seen or touched one, please write… I love books, I love art and this book is a piece of art… eager to hear!)
Reading the tale of how a passionate photographer (Helmut Newton) teamed up with a passionate publisher (Benedikt Taschen) to break new ground in terms of what a book could be, well… they really brought some heat. A great story.
And in a world of increasing eBooks, that’s a printed book that’s gonna survive.
So maybe, what we’re about to see is a renaissance of printed book creation whereby publishers actually craft each text in a way that speaks to the unique art that is printed book publishing.
Trashy mysteries with spines that fall apart after one pass… eBooks.
The Complete Works of Gabriel Garcia Marquez… smothered in leather, sepia tone pages on aged paper that smells like a century characterized by horse-drawn carriages.
Books are about to become more beautiful… by necessity. Because the market will pay for it. (SUMO is sold out on the Taschen website.)
eBooks will cannibalize, to some extent, the rest.