Sunday Book-Thought 69

The most obvious epicenter of this shakeup [the digital network] is the information business. And it is particularly instructive to consider the fate of one of its most familiar architectural manifestations, the book shop. Where will we find twenty-first-century Pickwicks?
The problem with printed books, magazines, and newspapers – Gutenberg’s gotcha – is distribution. Paper documents can be mass produced rapidly at centralized locations, but they must then be warehoused, transported, stocked at retail outlets, and eventually hand carried to wherever they will be opened and read. There are built and specially equipped places for each of these activities: the publisher’s office, the printing plant, the warehouse, the bookstore, the newspaper kiosk, lounges and waiting rooms stocked with magazines, and the easy chair beside the fire. These places are distributed at appropriate locations within the urban fabric and play important roles in  differentiating that fabric and the activities unfolding within it. Harvard Square would not be the same without Out of Town News and its diverse collection of bookstores.
William J. MitchellCity of Bits: Space, Place, and the Infobahn (Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 1995), pp. 49-50.

Laying Out Layout

I’m not usually big on book and essay reviews, but I’ll make an exception for M.B. Parkes. His paper – “The Influence of the Concepts of Ordinatio and Compilatio on the Development of the Book” – has come up in a couple of my classes, and every time I read it I learn something new. If you want to read the paper for yourself, it comprises the third chapter of Parkes’ book called Scribes, Scripts, and Readers: Studies in the Communication, Presentation, and Dissemination of Medieval TextsThe book is pretty well known among book historians, so head to the library and pick up a copy if you want to impress people. If you just want cocktail party material, though, read on! Continue reading “Laying Out Layout”