The Marriage of Digital and Print
by Alexis Chouan
Digital media are no longer a novelty, yet in the publishing industry, paper still struggles to reconcile with emerging technologies. Whether embraced or resisted, digital publishing is here to stay. Facing ever dropping numbers of books and magazines in circulation, publishers must find new ways to incorporate digital media in distribution.
A new collection by Presses de l'université de Montréal (PUM), entitled Parcours Numériques, offers a reflection on the ongoing digital transformation of our world. With over 20 contributors, the collection consists of a series of books, each addressing issues and offering solutions to understand digital media in our society. This series is not only innovative in ideas but in form, with each book appearing in print, and also in e-book format, and in a free online augmented reading, with links, images, videos, and comments.
Parcours Numériques is directed by Michael E. Sinatra and Marcello Vitali-Rosati. Both are literature professors at l'Université de Montréal, in English and French respectively. They partnered on the first book in the collection, Pratiques de l'édition numérique, which aims to bridge print and digital.
Sinatra and Vitali explained that the collection wants to go beyond the question of whether print is dead. At the UdeM launch of Parcours Numérique, Vitali demonstrated the collection's standard website for a book, which offers all of the text for free online, with integrated YouTube videos of the authors explaining key concepts, images, and word maps. The online book is meant for fast non-linear browsing, while the print edition is a concrete manifestation of the work for dedicated readers.
Parcours Numériques is an academic collection meant for academic readership. PUM science director, Benoît Melançon, presented the collection's vision of an online community of public scholarship. Instead of the work being reviewed by two peers, as is the standard in academic publishing, the online edition's commenting section fosters a community of peers reacting to and engaging with the research directly within the work, creating an organic and lively virtual debate that print books cannot directly offer.
In addition to Sinatra and Vitali's work, a second book was also launched with the start of the collection: Mauricio Ferraris' Ame et iPad, a discussion engaging identity, memory, and spirituality with the digital. From Plato to Tony Curtis, Ferraris invokes a wide range of thinkers and pop culture cases to offer insight on the place of digital media in human life.
Mauricio Ferraris is a professor of theoretical philosophy and ontology at the University of Turin, in Italy. He is interested in the concept of the document as a form of memory, and an extension of the self. In Ame et iPad, he considers how this document ischanging in the digital world.
Parcours Numériques is an inter-media experiment in the theory and practice of publishing. From print to digital, maybe there is a happy middle the industry can work with in its future. At least, that's what the directors of the collection suggest. See http://michaelsinatra.org/publications and http://www.parcoursnumeriques-pum.ca