[-empyre-] empyre Digest, Vol 111, Issue 8

Silvio Lorusso silviolorusso at gmail.com
Sat Mar 1 22:47:23 EST 2014

> > But how does great epub design look like? I didn't see much of it yet
> except to actually start 'think icon'. Could you bring up some examples
> here?


this question is often on my mind too, so here's my take. An interesting
signal to me is the fact that it's pretty hard to discover case-studies of
self-aware - or medium-specific - EPUBs. Here some examples:

- Corrupt.epub [aka KindleGlitcher], Benjamin Gaulon (2012)
- Bookcases, Nicolas Frespech (2011-2012)
- boem paukenslag, Megan Hoogenboom (2010)
- Book Becomes Book, Chris Gibson (2011)

My guess is that self-awareness can express the 'maturity' of the
medium/carrier and its autonomy. We know that there are endless examples of
self-aware physical books. In fact, according to Johanna Drucker, artists'
books are always conscious of their own being. Why this is not happening
with EPUB?

One possibility is that the format didn't yet get to a stability, therefore
to a recognisable, iconic form. The other, and that's the one I'm most
confident in, is that EPUB gets its value not too much from its design, but
from the context in which it is produced. In this sense, a plain-text EPUB
derived from an interesting, unexpected source or process, can be way more
interesting than a Fixed-Layout EPUB3 that embeds, sometimes in a clumsy
way, multimedia and interactivity. So I'm starting to think that the
question about design is secondary.

If it's not about design, what should the designer do? I believe that the
editorial designer today should explore the possibilities that lie in
between the pletora of formats and carriers available, acting like a
choreographer or a director.

Another possible approach to tackle EPUB is to consider it not a final
product, but a kind of accessible source. TRAUMAWIEN is doing this with the
Literary Trojan Horse and also within the Digital Publishing Toolkit some
experiments were made, such as the EPUB Trailer Generator: a proof of
concept developed during the "Free Libraries for Every Soul" Hackaton (



*Silvio Lorusso*
@silvi0L0russo <https://twitter.com/silvi0L0russo>
Skype: silvio.lorusso
silviolorusso at gmail.com
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