The duel of print and digital

Words in print unlocking content online. Are hybrid books the future of publishing?

By: Clare Howdle,   1 minute

An article I read in the Guardian in December started it off. Then receiving a Kindle for Christmas compounded it. Where is publishing headed? Will the digital age send the printed word, the smell of paper and ink, the crisp lick of turning pages to the paper shredder, books forever dumped on the media scrap heap with VHS, mini disks and floppies?

Not if trailblazing publishers like Melville House have anything to do with it.

Brooklyn-based and ideas-led, this independent outfit squeezed the relative merits of digital and print publishing into a cocktail shaker and poured out the Hybrid Book Project.

The Project, which kicked off in 2011, is focused around beautifully produced and printed publications featuring QR codes that lead to what Melville are calling ‘Illuminations’. These bonus features can be accessed online and augment the publications’ content. The first series in the Hybrid Book Project is called Duel, a collection of five novellas by famous authors all with Duel as their title. Featuring seldom before seen stories from Conrad and Chekhov each novelists’ book in the series features the same QR code linking to this additional content, which provides context about duelling from history and art to maps, chronologies, illustrations and more.

It’s an exciting concept for the world of publishing which traditionally has seen digital and print as combatative, themselves duelling for supremacy. With this kind of thinking behind it, the publishing industry could come out of the digital revolution stronger than ever.

Long live the (QR coded) printed page. (Also available as an e-book).


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