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Brooklyn Book Festival Panelists Agree The Book Is Evolving, Not Dying

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While the Brooklyn Book Festival was much more about print than about eBooks, in a session called “The Transformation of the Book” poets and artists discussed the evolution of the book.

Poet/critic John Yau spoke about using a wiki to edit a recent book. “The idea of the book is more fluid, as it becomes a part of a mass media communication,” he said. “The book is more of a communicative gesture these days.”

For Mendi Lewis Obadike, an author/artist who works in digital media, said that a book is not about the physical object, but rather the collection of ideas that it contains. Lewis-Obadike uses the format to inform the content in her work. She explained that in one digital short story about not wanting to talk about things, the text appears and then disappears depnding on how you mouse over it.

When asked is books are dying, Lewis-Obadike said that while the economy of the print book might be dying, that books are not. Yau agreed that books are not going to die. “The book is changing, but I don’t think it is going to die,” he said. “Books exist in all different ways now.”

Poet Jen Bervin agreed. She said that the digital format can now inform that work. “The content can change. The shape of the work can change and this can inform the conversation happening about the book.”

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