«In the book trade, too many publishers display at best indifference, if not utter contempt, for the physical characteristics of their publications. In this context, the near evangelical enthusiasm for casting-off the book’s mortal body in exchange for the sort of disembodied immortality (and cost savings) the digital realm promises is hardly a surprise. For too many publishers, the physical book has only ever been a ‘platform’ for the delivery of a product, and one badly in need of upgrading. The allure of these little occult gadgets which can summon whole libraries’ worth of texts out of the digital ether at the click of a button is clear.
This is not to take away from the powerful potential which digital technologies hold for the storage, retrieval, delivery and manipulation of texts, nor to suggest that the digital realm is all bread and circus and no meat. Publishers whose objectives were only ever purely commercial—who never bothered to understand the way in which the physical book might honour and exemplify the beauty of the ideas its text conveys—will most certainly abandon the book at first opportunity, taking their crassness and ignorance with them as they colonize new mediums. In this way at least, the terrain of digital publishing will be familiar to us when we encounter it.
And what of the physical book and those who honour its purpose? While we will not shy away from innovation, adapting it where it serves our ends, we will not so quickly abandon the proven cross-millennial functionality of the codex format for the bright promise of new gadgets. (...)»