Beyond Paper

Proud to announce that BEYOND PAPER, the digital reading room designed by Alex Valder and myself, won a DigiVis award. The competition rewards projects that increase visibility of digital products. We proposed ways to show digital books in the real world – be it at a trade fair, in a bookshop or at literary events.

In recent years e-book sales have flat-lined and there seems to be a big nostalgia for the printed matter all around. As much as I love paper myself, I am aware that it is a finite resource and that we cannot keep on producing books in these quantities.
Also as a creative person, I am naturally excited about the possibilities digital books might offer to an experimental book designer. So I was curious to know what was happening in the digital book arena.

To visit the biggest book fair in the world in Frankfurt seemed a good idea for that – if only there had been any e-books to be seen. The books around me were exclusively made of paper. When I asked, “excuse me, could I have a look at your e-books?”, publishers would give me a surprised look and reply, “but they are digital!”.
Wait a minute – is it really not possible to show digital books at a trade fair or in bookshops? How can staunch paper readers (and there are lots of them, especially in Germany) warm to the e-book, when it stays practically invisible in the analogue world?

We asked ourselves, what possibilities open up when “book” does not necessarily mean ink on paper anymore? Beyond paper, texts can take on new forms and new materials. Can you build a room with them? How could a spatial interface between the analogue and the digital world work?
BEYOND PAPER, the result of our collaboration, is a proposal for a group stand at a book fair. It is a digital reading room that presents e-books from different publishers and gives them a presence at the fair.

The reading room is enveloped in a curtain of soft book spines that acts as an acoustic shield against the noisy fair. The midst of the space is taken up by sitting cubes that have e-readers attached to them. Upright monitors that can be connected to these e-readers enlarge the digital book content and transmit it to the outside.

The thing most missed with e-books is the haptic experience. BEYOND PAPER allows visitors to browse physically through the soft spine curtain and the cubes, as well as digitally on the installed e-readers. Each book that is presented at the stand can be accessed on each e-reader.

Educated Germans love to hate digital books – even when they have never actually seen one. BEYOND PAPER would like to build a bridge for these readers, not only by creating an agreeable space to experience an e-book but also by showing them how to purchase, open, browse and navigate one in explainer videos.

Publishers can promote select books in the curtain or on the cubes. QR Codes printed on curtain and cubes invite visitors to download reading samples directly to their mobiles.

BEYOND PAPER could also be used for digital book presentations. The audience literally looks over the shoulder of the author, while he skips through his or her book.

All modules can be scaled and adapted to different situations, such as shop-in-shop or even for outdoor events.

What is next? We are ready to go and are looking for partners such as a trade fair, publishing house or bookshop to make BEYOND PAPER happen!

Concept and design by Rose Epple and Alex Valder
The DigiVis Competition was initiated by the German Publishers and Booksellers Association (Börsenverein des Deutschen Buchhandels) and the Berlin Senate – Project Future

 

 

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Chapel for 30 Seconds

What are you afraid of? You had 30 seconds to ponder this existential question, while crossing the light tunnel over river Ill. The installation by Alex Valder and myself in picturesque Feldkirch was part of the Montforter Zwischentöne, an innovative music festival. The theme of that year’s edition was “Faith”.

Photo: Elias Keimer

The questions mounted at either end of the bridge were changed every day to entertain regular users of the bridge as well as the one-time visitor from out of town. The closer you got to the questions, the less legible the letters became.

The bridge connects the town and the Montforthaus – the festival’s base – with the music academy on the other side of the river, which served as a venue for some festival acts.

Photo: Elias Keimer

In the early November nights the illuminated bridge showed visitors the way and signalled to the population that the festival was ‘on’.

A visitors book in the Montforthaus invited you to share your answers, reflections or comments to the question of the day.

Frage-Zeichen. Kapelle für 30 Sekunden, an installation by Rose Epple and Alex Valder  with the help of lighting expert Elias Keimer for the Montforter Zwischentöne from November 12-29, 2015. The festival is curated by Hans-Joachim Gögl and Folkert Uhde.
Title image © Darko Todorovic