Gutenberg’s Fingerprint: A Book Lover Bridges the Digital Divide

Merilyn Simonds. ECW (Legato, U.S. dist.; Jaguar, Canadian dist.), $24.95 (384p) ISBN 978-1-77041-352-8
In a mix of historical inquiry and technological experiment, Simonds (The Convict Lover) creatively grapples with the meaning of the paradigm shift that has transformed words pressed onto paper into digital pixels on screens. With the help of Hugh Barclay, who knows how to operate a 19th-century letterpress, she decides to publish her book The Paradise Project using the same techniques that Johannes Gutenberg used six centuries ago, while her son, Erik, prepares the manuscript as an e-book. Simonds rediscovers the art of print publishing through the examination of its four essential elements: paper, typeface, ink, and press. Each element has its own story, which is uncovered through exploration of historical evidence and hands-on experience, and its own digital representation simulated by LCD technology. She considers how the transition from physical to virtual has affected people’s reading habits and attitudes toward books in general, the ways that it has affected writers, and its potential to make more books available to readers. Simplicity of narration, curious facts, and the personal angle of the story will fascinate book lovers from beginning to end, no matter whether they are devoted to print or to digital, or move between the mediums. Agent: Martha Webb, McDermid Agency. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 04/10/2017
Release date: 04/01/2017
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