IDEO. The Future of the Book


The creative people at the design firm IDEO have weighed in on the future of the book. However, this video shows only digital book experiences. Does this mean that IDEO doesn’t forecast print and paper books sticking around? Whatever the case, this five minute long video is an intriguing look at how books might be manipulated into a social conversation.

This video explores three possible ways that people will experience books in the future.

  • The first way is called “Nelson.” It is a more academic application of social media that allows businesses to aggregate reader data in order to promote discussion within a career specialization.
  • The second way is called “Coupland”. It appears to be a more general, popular fiction reading tool. All discussions, popularity tools, and recommendations are integrated into the book. You could recommend a book to a contact with just a swipe of the finger.
  • The final way explored in this video is called “Alice.” It is software that allows readers to participate in the story of the novel they’re reading. Readers/users can go to a physical location to unlock clues or discuss plot developments.

I’m not sold on any of these innovative ideas. Nelson seems a bit “Big Brother-ish” to me. I mean, I don’t want my boss tracking my personal reading choices, even if it will allow me to make friends with the other poor schmuck in the  cubicle next to me!

Coupland seems impractical. In my current work, there are too many times that I’m unable to find a reading guide, reviews, or intelligent discussion for a book that the library needs. Unless Coupland’s developers have a way to ensure all future publishers create the necessary data, I don’t think it’s feasible. And not all books have the need for that type of data either! Sometimes a book is just a book. 😉

And finally, Alice seems like it would be fun. However, it’s also impractical. Requiring readers to visit a location to unlock a clue defeats the transportive powers of good literature. There are not many best selling books set in northern Wisconsin. I certainly wouldn’t be able to unlock clues, nor would many other readers. Alice also disparages, by inference, the many people who enjoy the solitary nature of reading and its meditative effects.

Try again, IDEO. You’re a great company with amazing ideas. I’d love to see ALA employ your skills on a national level to encourage discussion of the role of libraries.

This video was discovered on “The M Word” blog.

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About shortlibrarian

I am a woman working in the Twin Cities as a programming Librarian.
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