Book Designer Joel Friedlander on How eBooks Do Violence to the Concept of a Book


Book designer Joel Friedlander speaks with BookBaby president Brian Felsen about how eBooks are similar and dissimilar to print books. Joel believes that whenever new technology is introduced, it imitates elements of the older technology being replaced in order to resonate with users (who may otherwise be unsure of the new technology’s utility).

For instance, when the early typesetters first started making books, they were attempting to make books resemble the work of scribes. Early photography sought to mimic painting. Early films were essentially stage plays caught on camera. Similarly, eBooks are now trying to be a kind of digital equivalent of print books.

But at some point these newer technologies free themselves from the confines of equivalency. That is when the real innovation takes place.

Joel wonders what an eBook will be when we stop thinking of it merely as a print book’s more convenient replacement.

What do you think? Is the eBook just the newest incarnation of the “book?” Or is it something else entirely? If so, … what? Let us know in the comments section below.

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Joel Friedlander: The Book Designer
BookBaby makes self-publishing easy: From book printing, eBooks, distribution, cover design, and now editing. Since 2011, we’ve helped thousands realize their publishing goals, backed by a 100% satisfaction guarantee. BookBaby creates and distributes your printed books and eBooks to the largest distribution network, including Amazon, iBooks, Barnes & Noble, and many other popular retailers worldwide.


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