Very Pretty Pages

When legendary musician David Bowie passed away last month, much was written about his trendsetting sense of style. It was only natural that people should ask who Bowie's influences were. The answer to this question, interestingly, may lie in his extensive collection of books. Literature captures the imagination in a way no other medium can. Although the rise of tablets has made it possible to carry 100 books in your pocket, tablets just don't match the feel of actual paper. Physical, printed books are special. And they're becoming the stuff of art.

No Words Needed

Literature translates thoughts and images into words. What would happen if a renowned literary work were presented without its words? The result might not count as literature, but it could certainly make for a striking visual.

spiral of punctuation from Moby Dick
Image via Wired.

Punctuation is one of the most important details of the printed word. In an attempt to shine a spotlight on this importance, Chicago-based designer and artist Nicholas Rougeux decided to literally reduce some of the greatest novels of all time down to their punctuation. The project, which Rougeux calls "Between the Words," turns all the punctuation marks of a single book into a spiral, with a single identifying image in the center. Rougeux has made spirals out of such classics as The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and The Wonderful Wizard of OZ.

Crystal Clear

Although the point of owning a book is to read it, there's something heartbreaking about finding a discarded, damaged book. It can be considered a sign of disrespect to the author. One San Francisco artist sees it as a statement on the evolution of the printed medium.

open book sprinkled with crystals
Image via designboom.

Alexis Arnold was disturbed by the number of discarded books she often found around her neighborhood. As many of her favorite bookstores closed, she suddenly became aware of why so many headlines were declaring print to be "dead". It was this realization that led her to create her crystal book project. The project takes old books and glues living crystals on them. This makes the books impossible to read, but stunning to look at. Arnold's project proves that's there's still life to be found in those old pages.

Page by Page

Although downloading to a tablet is as simple as pushing a button, the process of creating a printed book is remarkably complex.

weaving of a book cover
Image via Gizmodo.

In the latest episode of his online series How to Make Everything from Scratch, Andy George, the creator of the series, shows the intricacies of creating a printed book. George's mini-documentary examines the differences in the choice of paper. It's a short but insightful look at the craftsmanship behind a format that has existed for hundreds of years.

Turn the Page

No matter what advances are made in the medium of print, printing itself has endured for centuries on account of the inherent human need to share stories. We can't be certain how stories will be told in the future, but we know there will be plenty of people ready to devour an exciting new tale.

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