Can the World Young Reader Conference, which will happen in Prague this September, provide actionable ideas for newspaper publishing? According to a recent, cloying Pepsi radio spot, youth does everything worthwhile. I personally prefer to see the wiles of age tempering the energy of youth to produce generational changes that represent the experience of everyone involved, but I’m cranky.
The answer promised in Prague is a “Total Youth Think” that “places young people at the center of a newspaper company’s strategy.” I am struck by the fact that the youth-oriented Facebook is becoming a medium predominantly used by parents and grandparents. The realistic course seems to be designing media for all ages, allowing them to connect. If you design just for youth, your market eventually ages out of your design target.
Presented for your consideration.
One of the strangest design caveats in e-books and online publishing is the need to reproduce the experience of turning a page as one would with paper. The fixation on creating the simulacrum of a paper page has held sway since the earliest days of electronic reading. E-magazine platform Zinio, for example, made the page-turning features in its reader the hallmark of its claim to reproduce the experience of reading a paper magazine.
Now, TechCrunch reports that Google will introduce “Flipper,” a page-turning feature, for Google News as a way of improving the user experience.
It all reminds me of the 50-year period following Gutenburg when, because printers had no better idea how to make a book, they simply imitated the designs of scribal manuscripts. Aldus Manutius had to come along and shake things up to kick-start the real evolution of reading and authorship, since most of the aping of scribal books led to folio-sized, un-attributed (except for mostly dead authors, who sometimes were deemed to have earned their billing) copies of a small set of acceptable books and lots of copies of The Bible and prayer books.
We may return to the scrolling page, which most of our ancestors found more pleasing than the codex-style page until the Dark Ages. We may not, choosing varying modes of access to text, and the “page-turn” may be an essential feature people can choose to turn off in favor of scrolling or something else. But the digital turning of pages isn’t an innovation, just imitation of a physical quality of printed works, without a solid design rationale, unless breeding familiarity is really the only challenge. It isn’t.
Marko Saric, over at HowtomakeMyBlog.com, has a very useful step-by-step guide to creating an e-book cover. If you’ve been wondering how to make an e-book look good, it’s well worth your reading time.