--The (affordable^) 2-Way Book--
last worked on: October 19th, 2020 & August 30th, 2023c
(This page is dedicated to my book molester wife  :-)
(You're at https://57296.neocities.org/books.html)

The next step in the evolution of (and let's hear it for) ink-on-paper books:

--is lay-flat binding! (comb, spiral, ring, whatever)
(Book, ink and paper lovers --unite! Debout!)
^Perhaps it's time to turn over the printing/publishing of books to those outfits which can
bombard everyone with "Shopper" ad pamphlets --and at no charge. Think of how
delighted they'd be to sell us spineless "books" for (say) $4.95 per copy -!- including
the bookstore's mark-up. (Gosh: bookstores would need shopping carts.)

That accomplished, we'd then move on to:
The 2-Way Book Format

* There've been several abortive "analog" revivals --which amounted to barely noticeable resurgences of film cameras, vinyl phonograph records, vacuum tube amplifiers, "paper people" and their fountain pens.

* Also, and it's much more than an ephemeral trend: this is most certainly the "age of self" and self expression --however exploited and shallow, via "social media", web pages, products, services --brand reviews/feed-back, reader comments, and (arghhhh) "tweeting".

** In 2015 the historical and literary importance of annotations was given a good outing. See an account of an exhibition ("among the first of its kind to focus explicitly on annotated books") titled: Readers Make Their Mark: Annotated Books at the New York Society Library.

So: let's institutionalize annotations by routinely publishing content (say) on the verso pages, such that one reads to the left and has ample space for annotation to the right --space which would accommodate and invite thoughts/insights of the moment, before they evaporate, --

--as well as more considered contributions^ --perhaps to begin a serial discussion across time with the book's author and whoever the next reader might be: perhaps an older self, a grandchild, or some future, unknown, reading companion. Such reader comments make a book unique, possibly to become a family heirloom or even a literary contribution in its own right. Eloquently executed or not, such a book also becomes a "time capsule" for future others to discover and intepret.

^ Longer contributions could carry over to the book's provided "end papers".

* I love the idea of annotated books --for their timeless, simple technology of ink-on-paper, for their "long now" (world without end) cultural horizon, for the potential of community that they hold --and across generations.

* Memos and helpful annotations added to an e-book via (say) a "Post-a-Note" utility in an e-reader type application --are unlikely to survive. Whereas a book's contents might patiently wait decades or even a century to be picked up, appreciated, and to once again find living expression --our digital devices (along with any contributions there-in) are likely to end their short lives in some God-forsaken, 3rd world, toxic electronics dump.

* I expect this renewed literary tradition (thanks to readers responding to the encouragement of provided comment space) would sell quite a few extra gift copies of popular books. Reader-responders would want their circle of friends to see their (nicely copied over, polished/reconsidered) commentaries.

** I'm talking affordable (but spiral bound) paperbacks. I'm also talking volume sales: four packs, ten packs --as with-it publishing houses race to grab market share with "page spaced" versions of familiar and new titles. They'd become the perfect, personalized (with your own annotations), ever-so-mailable, spontaneous "in" gift --at least among the educated, the literate, plus those who emulate and aspire to same.

** But let's also talk of a publishing renaissance and an (as yet) untapped market for higher priced, upscale, multi-copy book sets --complete with calligraphic nibs, pens and several included inks. (Publishers: hello!)

** People increasingly multi-task: reading/texting while walking, reading and eating, web browsing the book's references while petting a cat --and/or writing those annotations. Therefore I'm  not  talking about having to hold a "self-shutting" paperback open with two hands (and then keep repositioning it to follow text down into a skimpy binding margin).

* That means (and per my entry at the top of this web page): going to a comb, spiral or some other kind of a user-friendly binding innovation that allows a book to lay flat and open on a restaurant table, bed, lap or beach sand.

Hey: we're all spoiled now by our flat mobile and laptop screens^^ --which don't have to be 2-handedly "held open" to read (or to write upon) --right?

* Isn't it interesting how adverse we (currently) feel to "scribbling" more than a gift inscription into a book? Why? Our personal and sincere contributions could end up being more appreciated and memorable than fancy hardback binding, gift wrapping, or maybe even the book's content itself.

* For a lively option:

This 2-way-book proposal seems to dovetail nicely with a coherent and well established approach to "releasing books into the wild":

* "BookCrossing" (BXing) is a free, 15 year-old, web based, centralized organization which --interestingly-- tracks the often considerable geographic travels of their tagged books. Book comments and discussions are posted as well --very nearly what my 2WB effort seeks to accomplish. They'd of course have no problem with complimentary, constructive or critical annotations contributed into a book's margins, end pages or provided blank recto pages.

* BookCrossing management, per their FAQs #91 and #86, is almost of two minds about placing their tagged books in for-sale venues. This is understandable in that (and it's just myself talking here), being centrally data accessible, BXers would be put in a situation of having professional book sharks glomming onto placed books before anyone else could get to them. (Happens anyway?)

Of course, one might see resale as part of the "natural life cycle" of books (owner - buyer-reseller, or owner - Amazon.com - owner), and it doesn't seem fair that BXers have to buy their books at the regular new or used price, but feel hesitant to recover part of that price, or to pass any gain on to a charitable book sale. (The argument that BXers can find their books at other placement sites doesn't hold. I understand that most BX released books simply vanish.)

* BookCrossing only allows ink-on-paper books into its system. This is also understandable in that BookCrossing is about books. (Presumably, they'd also prefer not to get into the middle of copyright enforcement actions against easily duplicated/forged media.)

* The "World Lending Library" concept (per that other sticker in the open book photo) (which has no other Web presence that I'm aware of) --also encourages the free placement and circulation of books, but has no problem with placements of other media or with the resale of tagged items through any type of commerce or charity. Books tagged with the WLL sticker can be sold to a book store, left in co-operating restaurants, coffee houses, service clubs, donated to charitable or public library book sales for "the next person". WLL tagged books that you value can also be kept in your personal library indefinitely --but please consider buying a replacement copy or two for "the next person/s"^. Annotations are also encouraged (minimally signed or anonymously is okay).

* Participants should, of course, expect and respect the right of their book exchange host to review titles before placing them on the shelf for her/his customers/patrons to see. (Please: nothing overtly "lewd".) So simply use their donation box. Staff will then place your book or other item onto their book shelves.

^ Again: the first copy of a book you care enough about to annotate is likely to be a keeper, so we're probably talking a bit of "book evangelism" here --through purchasing additional copies and doing re-drafts of your original comments.

I babble on about the:
2-way book format

* With the invention and the acceptance of e-inkTM, Paper-likeTM and the reMarkableTM tablet screens (per: https://getremarkable.com/ ), the future of ink-on-paper publishing is looking dicey --but: let's take another look. A renaissance of paper (real paper) might come upon us as rapidly as have our many digital revolutions --providing that publishers keep up with our --expressive-- cultural times.

This be the "paperless" era?

You might recall that we're now supposed to be living well into a "paperless" future. Instead, we've been buying stationery by the case instead of the ream. A big break for paper came when the desktop printer industry finally broke ranks on the per-page cost of ink. (I suppose that 24/7 Postal service is too much to wish for.)

However, and being more realistic: the transition from our popular preoccupation with PC/desk top home and office systems (all those cables!) --to do-all, hand-held/back pocket "smart phones" --does indeed suggest that a wide spread alienation from ink and paper is well under way. "Re-tweeting" (and such) is a far cry from editing literary efforts (however humble), images, web pages and proper (USPS transmitted) correspondence, so let's try to swim against the current cultural tide.

I babble on about:
Annotated books:

* There've been a number of works like the seminal "The Annotated Alice^" (by Martin Gardner), for classic titles which could benefit from informed, entertaining commentary and guidance. Before Gardner's book they may have amounted to "The Annotated ____", but without so declaring. We own an 1845 edition of Rev. Milman's "Gibbon's Rome" --a reboot of Edward Gibbon's 1776-1788 "The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire", but with ample footnoting.  Such clarification and backgrounding for old terms, implicit assumptions, concepts and turns of phrase are most welcome.

Our own, perhaps more ordinary comments, dissents, criticisms, supplementary information and corrections might also make welcome reading companionship --cramped though they be into the thin margins of standard books.

^The Annotated Alice places Gardner's comments at the end of each chapter, whereas Milman's footnotes are on the same page (as are Witold Rybczynski's) --which is far more user friendly. Consequently, and except for reading through the original text, the PDF copy of The Annotated Alice that I have is not user friendly. Gardner's comments were probably meant to hotlink back and forth, but that utility doesn't work. (I'm using a year 2014 version 6.2+ of "Foxit" reader and my PDF copy of Alice is dated 2006 --sic semper technology.)

My on-going, real world, anchoring experience --in appending comments to another person's work --is via traveling folios of 3-D print pairs, which the Stereoscopic Society of America has been sending around the United States by Post for 100 years (40 of them on my watch). These traditionally formatted, often artistically executed "view cards" --often the kind which fit into a classic "parlor stereoscope", have a subject or scene on the front and a description/legend on the back. At each stop our members contribute comments, much in the vein I'm suggesting here for books --onto each view's protective sleeve, provided flap and/or into the folio's notebook (which is for our more extended comments). I'm so steeped in this practice that it's only with effort --that I resist lifting and looking behind framed paintings to see if there might be some kind of a legend on their versos as well.  :-)

In an interview from Wisconsin Public Radio's To the Best Of Our Knowledge at:
> http://www.ttbook.org/book/reading-history-margins

--Anthony Grafton (of Princeton) discussed how assiduously books use to be read --"pen in hand" for annotations and/or entries in a "copy book". This be serious reading. I agree with Grafton that today's computers and e-book readers (like the Kindle system) can amount to the same intensity --as we juggle and struggle between open windows, other sources, keyword searches, "saves"/organizing download folders, and even digital "Post-a-Notes" (which stay on a reader's screen/page). But I also agree that today's readers skim/p.

The first segment in that TBOOK PODcast (with Mary Ann Wolf) suggested that the displacement of printed books by e-book and Internet web pages depletes the focus, good reading habits and expectations we use to cultivate by reading printed pages --that the typical digital reading grist, the HTML links and the styles we encounter, cultivate a "grasshopper mind". (Nice term  :-)

* Again: ephemeral digital entries into some proprietary device seem a poor follow-on to such past practices of "serious reading". Instead of digital entries, instead of scrawling comments into the marginal margins of real books, I propose that ample space be provided to facilitate both casual and serious annotation --including the tradition of blank end pages for the reader's indexing, extended footers, references and remarks. (Having a digital copy of a title as well can --of course-- be a great convenience in recovering things only half remembered, but an added personal index plus "tabbing out" salient pages of real books also helps immensely.)

Grafton and interviewer Ann Strangechamps (spell?) sounded apologetic about their own dog-earing of pages, underlining and such. Well tch-tch --especially if that extends to annotations. There's potential treasure to be found in the margins of annotated books.

Partly because of such book-idolizing perceptions, marked up books are usually sold at steep discount. (And also: because many folks make such a cryptic mess of their contributions.)

There's also that "déclassé" thing: not wanting to share a public transportation seat (or a public book) with the "unwashed". But a book doesn't have to be annotated by some notable eminence (say: you have a reproduction of a marked up book from Sir Isaac Newton's private library). Any sincere notation provides us with the insights of and insights into a fellow reading companion --along with the times s/he lives/d in: the very basis of would-be cultures of record, which authors of fiction and non-fiction attempt to capture.

In the democratic spirit of Wikipedia's open editing and "Talk" sections; in blogs and in the comments sections of web page presentations, ever more people want to engage with topics, authors and even material products. We are, by and large, no longer content to simply take what's given to us^^. We have our own (however cock-eyed) opinions to lodge. Newspapers, magazines, TV and radio shows need Web sites and "Letters sections" for these outpourings --and just look at those Amazon.com reviews: they're gushing away about products, book, CD and DVD titles.

(^^The establishment tried to foist Hillary on us --didn't work. We got --arghhh-- Trump.)

* So: I suggest that books have not only fallen behind the times, but that they could have long since been leading them --and to better places. I also suggest that there's a reseller's future in "scribbled-up" books, especially if provision is normally made for that very purpose, and as the idea and acceptance of informally annotated books matures. Given published comment space and the expectation of finding reader contributions in a used book, such added remarks would cease to look like graffiti --and readers would take more care with their entries. After all: books are forever--

Dealing with existing books:

--but digital and physical Post-a-NotesTM aren't forever.

* I tried this approach but it seems a poor solution, plus they're likely to be thoughtlessly removed.

* At this writing, nothing seems totally satisfactory. A page of blank space (every other page) would soon be chockablock full after the book has passed through a few hands --but then again: life is like that. We always have to work within limitations --and are often the better for it.

Yes: the scholarly thing would be to write a proper, published review or another book, but that doesn't get at the goal of a more democratic and conversational state of engagement.

Another consideration is that digitally annotating (onto/into an e-book) and then passing it around presents copyright and "creative control" problems (assuming it's even "DRM" possible to forward a copy + notes that way). Of course, were an author to e-publish under a liberal Creative Commons license or (preferably) straight into public domain, then some sort of a modifiable digital format would seem to be feasible --but that's another and a rather remote (to this page) issue.

Least worst --for existing books.

Witold Rybczynski's Paper Heroes

* So okay, I bit the bullet and just started scritching in my marginal comments with a sharp pencil, hoping some other solution "would find me" via the actual doing of it. I wrote what I could squeeze in, going to the next page when needed, gently using an eraser for any changes. The result is rather messy --but it's (what?) honest/real.

* Hmmnnn some more: just found out this is a somewhat coveted, out of print, first edition. (Oh well.)

That does raise the issue of costs, however.

Rare and new books --especially about specialized subjects like astronomy and technical matters, can be costly. For some of us, it will take the courage of our convictions to crowd in our marginal comments. For myself and my wife, however --we just can't help ourselves: scritch scritch, underline underline, tab tab, dog ear dog ear. (She even highlights --and does so at length.)

* Never-the-less, I'm imagining books with contributions (of modest length) by more than one reader --and that they'd actually increase the 2nd hand value of a book (some day).  Were notables and/or the original author to participate, such a book might rise to auction and reprint status (complete with its annotations and discussions, of course).

* Right: as a percentage, relatively few people read books at all, let alone actively engage them. However, the actual number of people this small percentage represents is not only marketably large, these reading, thinking, writing people are the basis of our (written-down) culture of record (and I can imagine more/other folks catching a new wave of book annotation).

* Physically: the two-way-book should be published on a reasonable facsimile of decent weight writing stationery with any gloss finish limited to images.

* Getting back to formatted 2-way books --again:
Traditional book binding is not acceptable.
* These books (all books) should be capable of being laid down flat, thanks to well designed, durable, comb bindings. The above example (for a vocational course in making ophthalmic lenses) runs over 200 pages, handles well, and has endured 50 years of use and annotation over two generations.

Such "text", "lab" and "work books" are well enough in their place, but instead of interest and hobby-killing assigned exercises, the self-motivated general public would surely prefer convenient opportunities to log a reader's spontaneous responses/thoughts, project ideas, sketches and sightings/observations. Such accommodation could not only provide a two-way digestive outlet, but lead serious readers on to more scholarly practices, additional self-made journals and log books.

Again: the right-hand^ pages would be left blank or printed with faintly ruled lines for the reader's entries. Even novels could benefit from the courtesy of a half page of provided space.

(^ Does an upper right space work well enough for left-handed individuals?)

"Reading fuels the brain". "True communication is a two-way process". To best fix/anchor what's been gained, we need some kind of an outlet --at least a handy place to log our comments, insights and "take-homes". As added thoughts to the very sources from which they sprang, they'd be easier to recover and assess (by ourselves and others), even at a much later date.

* With such entry spaces and adequate text line spacing ("leading"), otherwise normal margins and (comb) binding allowance might serve --at least for the initial owner-reader-responder. (End papers for the rest.)

* With development, spreading acceptance, and in qualified hands, the "two way book" could also result in many new "The Annotated _____" titles. Re-issues of annotated public domain classics are of course a natural, but I'd expect follow-on titles in co-operation and contract with modern authors as well.

Republishing every worthwhile title in 2WB format, then over and again with a multitude of good commentaries. (Hey: that could become brisk business!)

^^^ Regarding Kindle readers and Kindle-like programs for various computers/devices: they allow one to annotate the pages of "your" copy of an e-book. However, you don't actually own your copy. The fine print makes it clear that you own nothing --and that your book might even be made to evaporate. I doubt that one would be allowed to transmit an annotated page to someone else for discussion. For a short presentation on such matters, see Charlie Rogers' authoritative comments at:

> https://cjrogers.com/ebooks-copyright-and-rent-seeking/1058

8/30/2023 update:

* "Comb binding" works well, presents an adequate spline (for felt tip pen or a printed appliqué), and isn't so wide as to overly crowd adjacent books on a shelf (judging from the manual featured on this web page and an old 340 page doctoral thesis in hand here).

That said, expect to pay $15 or more per copy for a small book/let project at a Staples or a Kinkos. (A DIY comb binding kit is probably too costly for casual use, so I'd leave that to binding larger press runs or a special small project --like that thesis, an in-house manual, a presentation desk folio).

Spiral binding might be more durable but doesn't allow of a display spline. I see no advantage to it.

To make 2WBs work for a small, self publishing project (and maybe for a larger and affordable printer run), they have to be much more "DIY" cost competitive with today's Internet connected, desktop origination, forwarding, and distribution (by simply posting). That means eliminating the fact and the expectation of traditional binding all together --along with publishers and print shops. The product might then be sent to an interested circle of friends, to subscribers, placed on speculation in ye olde bookstore, or just given away.

* Staples --!

A Bostitch model B8 plier stapler can pierce and secure a mess of 28 pound pages. Staple through small, flexible, thin, plastic sticky pads^ (placed front and back, upper left-hand corner), which provides a good grip point and a degree of page turning durability. Then tab and pop it into your old filing cabinet. (Come back 50 years later and it will still be there: no hard drive failure, no expiration of operating system support, no obsoleting of the digital format you saved it in.)

* Complete the 2WB picture by (desktop) printing with fairly narrow set left side margins, leaving a goodly blank talk-back space to the right on each page (plus a few paginated "endpapers"). Mail copies of your responses to the author. Add the author's responses and forward the spawned follow-on project to your interest circle or book club friends.

^ The "Do it Best Corp" anti-skid material in their item #242641 is the right stuff and it might be available in small sheets. If so, cut it into 1-1/2 inch squares, then halve the squares diagonally and fit them neatly onto the upper left corner (front and back). Pages will then turn neatly up and out, against the diagonal cut. When all 4 corners are corner-rounded (requires a heavy duty Lassco rounder) and placed/displayed in a plastic sleeve, the well composed top/cover page of a spineless 2WB might look pretty good.