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A next chapter: Editions at Play

Screen Shot 2016-02-06 at 10.35.39 AM In a world where smartphones are transforming into all-purpose devices, not surprisingly, an October 2015 Pew study found a sizable decline in e-book reader ownership.

It’s possible that digital may not be the best container for all physical books. And it’s pretty clear that print and e-readers are not the perfect containers for emerging forms of digital narrative. Some books just cannot be printed or easily contained.

The opening of a new kind of online bookstore is evidence of the multiple flavors and containers in which story can now play beyond the print page and beyond the confines of the e-reader.

Editions At Play by Visual Editions and Google’s Creative Lab opened this week as an experiment exploring emerging genres of boScreen Shot 2016-02-06 at 11.12.51 AMoks that change dynamically on your phone or tablet, using all the attributes of the modern mobile web to do things that printed books never could.

The store currently features two intriguing new books to preview and purchase:

Entrances & Exits by Reif Larsen: a Borgesian love story told through Google Street View, in which the narrator discovers a mysterious key in an abandoned bookshop and gradually learns of its power to open and close doors around the world. The story is a beautiful dance between fictional narrative real locations that seamlessly spans the globe.

The Truth About Cats & Dogs: a failed collaboration between novelist Joe Dunthorne and poet Sam Riviere.  Switch between their diaries, their poems, their private resentments and public enthusiasms. Though there is no right way to read the story, someone must have the last word.

Editions At Play plans to both commission and champion new kinds of books–to see if we could keep the integrity of reading, but play with the book’s digital form.  The team is working with well-known international authors to release four books (in the pipeline) over the next few months with more to come.

The Editions at Play team invites new book concepts and shares: If you could make any kind of digital book, what would it be? Tweet us your book ideas and napkin sketches.

What does this mean for libraries?  How might we too celebrate these fascinating new types of works?  How might they become part of our digital collections?

Joyce Valenza About Joyce Valenza

Joyce is an Assistant Professor of Teaching at Rutgers University School of Information and Communication, a technology writer, speaker, blogger and learner. Follow her on Twitter: @joycevalenza

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