Posted by Margarita Korol
On a stage at Parsons last night,  designer extraordinaire Chip Kidd moderated AIGA’s well-attended “The Next Chapter: The Design and Publishing of the Digital Book.”
The panel comprised of SVA prof and design diva Carin Goldberg, Adobe’s king of User Experience who profligates mags we love like Wired into iPad-maximized formats Jeremy Clark, and Flipbook for iPhone alum designer Craig Mod.  Each modestly offered perspectives to a publishing world in disastrously fabulous flux, and what going digital might mean to designers today.  It had the feel of 1950s nuclear scientists assuring the paranoid public that despite how scary the technology might seem, it will ultimately contribute to the greater good, or at least, that change is inevitable so learn the drill. Duck and cover, tap and code.
Morals of the story:
  • The dim fate of the printed book en masse does not mean that the designer is endangered. It seems the technological zoo of interactive media will propagate our species just fine, especially those individuals who are the fittest and most adaptable to the new terrain.
  • If you can’t beat em, join em. Seriously, you are not Barbra, so please stop singing “The Way We Were,” and learn some new technologies for God’s/ your 401k’s sake.
  • It is time we take the Internet and digital media in general out of the clammy hands of the tech geeks and do the platforms and their users a service in dedicating ourselves to some much needed aesthetic revolutions so that we may finally put looping animated gifs to rest. And, says Mod, if you were to put a gun to his head and force him to choose one technology to get on top of as a publishing designer, go with HTML5 (Sorry, Adobe).
  • To be conscious of one’s interactivity potential and tech savviness is to be painfully aware of one’s physical age. Try not to break your hip on your compass on your way out.
  • What makes this panel of greats great is that their intelligent design is backed by discerning intelligence. Prolific designers with a clue, Kidd and Goldberg have made premature judgment of a book a delicious treat for us in traditional form, and their brave (or at least stoic) gaze into the future contextualizes the book in the financial circumstances of today’s publishing world as an evolving format, not a dying one. Each member of the panel agreed that this is just the beginning. With conservation and reinvention in mind, Kidd’s closing remarks quoting a highly memed John Waters were appropriate: “We need to make books cool again. If you go home with somebody, and they don’t have books, don’t fuck them.”

Catch Chip Kidd at his Ted Talk coming up March 1 on the importance of books.

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  • Andrew Porter

    “Nerd Porn”: catchy but really stupid title for this, unless you want to be Controversial, and get hits on your site. The dozens of responses is telling.

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