Unfold it and they will read

Nederland, Amsterdam, Promotiemateriaal Ambo Anthos/ Jongbloed-Dwarsligger, Foto: Mark Kohn

“the book is like the spoon, scissors, the hammer, the wheel. once invented, it cannot be improved” (Umberto Eco)

There is a trend going on here:

Samsung showed a prototype (ahem) of the (long-rumoured) foldable phone and announced they’ll be ready to start mass production in the coming months…

Google announced Android will support upcoming foldable phones.

Meanwhile, a “new” format of physical, printed book has been evolving to mimic the use of cellphones.

The Dwarsligger, a concept (apparently) patented(*) by Dutch publisher Royal Jongbloed, is a little book, the size of a smart phone, printed in small, landscape type, designed to be read by flipping the pages upwards, as if scrolling through Twitter or Instagram. They were first introduced in The Netherlands in 2009, and apparently some 10 million of them have been sold in Europe(†). Now Penguin has just brought the flipback (dwarsligger) to the U.S:

We know that young readers, especially, still prefer print books, but are drawn to the portability of reading on their devices.

This is a highly sophisticated survival of the fittest game… Personal devices evolving to fit into a user’s hand when unfolded and into a user’s pocket when folded. And literary forms evolving to suitably fit into a user’s personal device.

Maybe the book is not like the spoon, after all.


(*) I have been unable to check the status of this patent, but its claims are bold (to say the least):

A book comprising a plurality of sheets, which sheets are mutually-connected on a spine side and which are provided at least substantially with text on both pages within predetermined margins, which text consists of lines with words which can be read by a reader in a reading direction, wherein at least almost all lines on at least almost all pages of the book extend parallel to the spine of the book, and that the lines on two adjoining pages of two adjoining sheets are arranged in the same reading direction in the opened position of the book such that the reader can read the text on both adjoining pages in the same reading direction without rotating the book..

(†) Spain was the second country to introduce dwarsliggers, under the name “librinos” (Ediciones B) in November 2010. (Received with a mixed welcome.)

Featured Image: Wikimedia Commons, Dwarsligger


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