Bookmark – Frankfurt,Typography and the Book

Boekwetenschap en Handschriftenkunde Amsterdam

rankfurt is upon us, so here is a celebration of type and the book.  The initial “F” comes from Boekwetenschap en Handschriftenkunde Amsterdam, where Paul Dijstelberge and others have posted over 30,000 photos of initials, ornaments and type in cooperation with the Special Collections, Amsterdam; the Royal Library, The Hague; and the Archive at Alkmaar.

Jaap Harskamp, Dijstelberge’s coauthor at In Loving Memory of the Book, an equally “voluminous” site, writes:

Much has been made in recent years about the emergence of the ebook and the ‘death’ of the printed book. Such discussions are fashionable and fruitless. As long as people read, the shape or form of the book is irrelevant. In fact, the ebook may well be a blessing in disguise for those who passionately defend the printed book. Photography did not kill off portrait painting as it was once feared; neither will the ebook refer the printed text to the dustbin of history.

Photography may not have killed off portaiture, but digital photography did kill off Eastman Kodak.   Which entities ebooks will see off will be debated until the event.   The shape or form of extended narrative and discourse, however, is surely not irrelevant.  The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore and the walk-in book exhibition Memory Palace at the Victoria & Albert Museum are recent evidence.  While more evidence may be adduced, do we need it to know that shape and form matter, or that we gather each year in Frankfurt to celebrate reading and its shape and form?


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