(Image courtesy of HAWRAF)
For whatever reason, ebooks haven’t taken off to the same degree other digital forms of content have, like music, movies, television and even news articles. Ebook sales actually fell 16 percent from 2015 to 2016 and even fell in share of overall books sold. Paper is, somehow, winning.
Maybe ebooks just lack that special something when it comes to design. That was the hypothesis Carly Ayres, Andrew Herzog and Nicky Tesla of Brooklyn design firm HAWRAF had when they set about to redesign the ebook to be more accessible and beautiful. That’s what the duo have done with the new book Poetic Computation: Reader by Taeyoon Choi.
“The concept was about thinking about the future of online reading,” explained Ayres by email. “We felt that the future of reading online was accessibility, adaptability, so offered options for people to adjust the text, background color, spacing, online or offline formats, as well as use a text to speech API to have it read to you via audio.”
— HAWRAF (@hawrafintl) October 5, 2017
In tech terms, the book is a web application you can reach via any browser. The device is whatever screen you like, unlike the Amazon Kindle, which has software and hardware combined together. Poetic Computation also differs in that it’s totally open sourced. Anyone can read the code that built it and make their own versions to tinker with.
Code is a central part of not only the bones of the book but the flesh of it as well. Poetic Computations “discusses code as a form of poetry and aesthetic while raising ethical questions associated with it,” as it says in the table of contents. Choi is the artist and writer who cofounded the School for Poetic Computation, a program through which some of New York’s most interesting artists have passed or taught at, including many we’ve written about here, such as Morehshin Allahyari, Ramsey Nasser and Tega Brain.