The Future of the Book

headerHow will people read in the future? What will books look and feel like? How will publishers adjust in the face of technological upheaval? In what new ways will authors engage with their readers? ASU’s Center for Science and the Imagination is collaborating with Intel® Labs on a number of creative interventions and research projects to explore the future of books, reading, writing and publishing.

Volume 2: Knowledge Systems
Volume 3: The Future of Reading

Volume 1: The Future of Publishing, October 9-11, 2013

The first phase of Sprint Beyond the Book was an ambitious experiment that teamed up novelists, scholars, digital publishers and journalists to create a digital book featuring original writing, video and images in just 72 hours. From October 9-11, 2013, we were on site at the Frankfurt Book Fair writing, editing and assembling a collaboratively written book about the future of publishing.

The book, Beyond the Book, also features crowdsourced text and video responses to a variety of questions about the future of books and publishing collected through the project’s website. It was created using a collaborative media platform, currently in prototype form at Intel® Labs. The book is free to read and share, and is available now at the Sprint Beyond the Book websiteBeyond the Book is a living book, so check back frequently for updates and enhancements!

Watch this brief video introduction to Sprint Beyond the Book by Ed Finn, director of the Center for Science and the Imagination:

The core team of writers included:

  • Ed Finn, founding director of the Center for Science and the Imagination and assistant professor with a joint appointment in the School of Arts, Media and Engineering and Department of English at Arizona State University.
  • Jane Friedman, web editor for Virginia Quarterly Review and former publisher for Writer’s Digest
  • Dan Gillmor, author and professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication
  • Lee Konstantinou, novelist, assistant professor of English at the University of Maryland and associate editor for fiction and criticism for the Los Angeles Review of Books
  • Charles Stross, science fiction writer, futurist and contributor to Foreign Policy magazine

Additional writers contributing material for the book as part of our global network included Brian David Johnson, Intel futurist and principal engineer; Corey Pressman, president of Exprima Media and co-founder and publisher of The Holocene magazine; John Risseeuw, director of ASU’s Pyracantha Press and proprietor of Cabbagehead Press; Christine Szuter, director of ASU’s Scholarly Publishing Graduate Certificate Program; Beverly Schlee, conservator at ASU Libraries; G. Pascal Zachary, professor of practice at ASU’s Consortium for Science, Policy and Outcomes and Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication; Mark Tebeau, director of ASU’s Public History program; and Ariel Bogle, research associate at the New America Foundation.

Volume 2: Knowledge Systems, February 6-7, 2014

The second phase of Sprint Beyond the Book was a book sprint at Arizona State University’s Downtown Phoenix campus. We compressed our timescale for writing, editing and publishing to just 48 hours, and brought together more than 20 authors to collectively imagine the future of the book as a system for creating, organizing and disseminating knowledge.

Key questions addressed in the book include: How will digital textbooks transform teaching and learning? What new kinds of communities will form around the books of the future? How can we archive and preserve digital books as carefully and lovingly as paper books? Does changing the definition of “book” change the definition of “knowledge”? How can we encourage playfulness and experimentation in book design and authorship?

Beyond the Book, Volume 2: Knowledge Systems also features images, diagrams and video interviews with our authors.  It was created using a set of collaborative, open-source tools that enable real-time collaborative writing, responsive feedback and revision, multimedia integration and an iterative publication process that builds a “living” book that can be updated and enriched continuously.

The book was available for public reading and commentary throughout the writing and editing process. It is free to read and share at the Sprint Beyond the Book website.

Contributors to Volume 2 included:

  • Sally Ball, director of creative writing, Department of English, Arizona State University
  • David M. Berry, co-director, Centre for Material Digital Culture, University of Sussex
  • Amaranth Borsuk, assistant professor, Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences, University of Washington, Bothell
  • Torie Bosch, editor, Future Tense, Slate magazine
  • Alice Daer, assistant professor of rhetoric and composition studies, Arizona State University
  • Alexander Halavais, associate professor, School of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Arizona State University; president, Association of Internet Researchers
  • Micah Lande, assistant professor, College of Technology and Innovation, Arizona State University
  • Anouk Lang, lecturer, Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Strathclyde
  • C. Max Magee, founding editor, The Millions online literary magazine
  • Erin McCarthy, assistant director, Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies
  • Richard Nash, publisher, Red Lemonade; founder, Cursor
  • Corey Pressman, president, Exprima Media
  • Scott Selisker, visiting assistant professor, Department of English, University of Arizona
  • Bob Stein, founder and co-director, Institute for the Future of the Book; Founder, The Voyager Company
  • Mark Tebeau, director of public history, Arizona State University
  • Dennis Tenen, assistant professor, Department of English and Comparative Literature, Columbia University
  • Erin Walker, assistant professor, School of Computing, Informatics, and Decision Systems Engineering, Arizona State University
  • Eric Wertheimer, associate vice provost for graduate programs and professor, Division of Humanities, Arts and Culture, Arizona State University
  • Ruth Wylie, postdoctoral scholar, Learning Sciences Institute, Arizona State University
  • G. Pascal Zachary, professor of practice, Consortium for Science, Policy and Outcomes and Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, Arizona State University

Volume 3: The Future of Reading, May 12-14, 2014


The third phase of Sprint Beyond the Book will take place in May 2014 at Stanford University’s Center for the Study of the Novel. Participants will include science fiction author and editor Eileen Gunn, editor and typographer John D. Berry, experimental musician / professor of philosophy David Rothenberg, and many more!

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