Brain Pickings

How a Book is Made, Circa 1947


2011 is barely underway and it’s already been a tumultuous year for the evolution of publishing. As entire industries struggle to plot the future of the book, we find it important to take a step back and take a look at its past. An 8-bit unicorn tipped us off to the priceless 1947 documentary Making Books — a joint effort of Encyclopedia Britannica Films and the Library of Congress that will make you gasp and wince and gasp again as it opens its treasure chest of retro technology, matter-of-factly industrialism and unwitting vintage sexism. (Alnd cue in omnibus of short films about obsolete occupations.)

This man is an author. He writes stories. He has just finished writing a story. He thinks many people will like to read it. So, he must have this story made into a book. Let’s see how the book is made.”

While we aren’t ones to romanticize the wonders of yore, there’s something to be said for the kind of craftsmanship that we lose, or at the very least dramatically alter, as we substitute the digital page for the printed one. We also have to wonder about the lens of delightful quaintness with which tomorrow’s historians and media scholars will tell the story of, say, designing for the iPad reading experience.

via Dead SULs

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