Faculty Advisor

Carlin, Jane

Area of Study

Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences

Publication Date

Summer 2012


In this digital age, it is easy to predict that print is dead and soon people will be reading nothing but e-books. I wanted to explore the world of fine printing presses and artists’ books, where print is still very much alive, to see what this sector thinks about the future of the physical book. I visited several fine presses and book artists in Northern California and England, as well as some libraries with unique examples of these kinds of books. I read books and articles about the place of the physical book in today’s society. My initial thought was that people who are involved in the process of making books that are works of art will feel very strongly about e-books and the encroachment of technology into the printed world. However, I found a much more varied response than I was expecting: after the press visits and reading relevant literature, there is no overwhelming outcry against e-books from those who love the physical book. Rather, some who spend their lives with books have realized the benefits of e-books and have embraced their possibilities, while others see fine press books and e-books coexisting side by side indefinitely because of their vast disparities. While it does very well to start the research in rare book rooms and fine printing presses, eventually the knowledge gathered in these places must transcend the academic sphere into the everyday one so that the twenty-first century world of publishing maintains a balance between print and digital.


University of Puget Sound