New! A 5,5 century old invention redefined

You would expect that innovations in the book industry would be a technological one. Probably a newer and improved e-reader. But no, not this invention. It generally redefines how we’ve been using books since about 1450, since the invention of book printing.

Sometimes you wonder why things are the way they are. Take the book for example. It hasn’t changed for over 5,5 century’s but has it been the ultimate shape? I guess not. As an in-bed-reader I always experience its restrictions. For traveling you make sure you carry a bag because of its size or do not bring too many with you when you’re flying, because of its weight. But finally there is the ‘dwarsligger’ (sorry for you English readers, I would not know how to translate this correctly). Introduced at the Manuscripta last week in Amsterdam. And previewed before that at the New Genes business innovation and marketing event Walking Drink. It’s small and light weight because special very thin paper has been used. And a new letter font was created for better reading in small print, so more text will fit on the page. And, the best part, the way you read a book has just been turned around 90 degrees. What will make in-bed-reading al lot easier.


See the complete info and introduction on the dwarsligger website. (I have to disappoint my English readers again, it’s in Dutch)


19 Responses to “New! A 5,5 century old invention redefined”

  1. 1 steph 17/09/2009 at 16:26

    It’s a great play on words! A dwarsligger is a railway sleeper. And of course a sleeper lies in bed. And het ligt dwars, it’s sideways.

  2. 2 Lone 17/09/2009 at 17:24

    ‘Redefine’ is a too large a word for whats been done here.

    Based on the example; The improved typeface benefit would decrease in proportion to its size and the strain put on the viewer over time. That said the type looks about the same size as a small paperback and that is comfortable for the majority during casual reading. And in the frame of paperbacks the pulp paper used is almost as light on its own as what appears to be India / Bible paper. The only important difference here is the holding arrangement. The one used as an example would tire before the typical thumb-in-gutter while holding anything heavier than whats shown. Its trading the natural balance and strength of an single inline hand-wrist-forearm for the an present weight to one side.

    Sometimes things centuries old are not broken.

  3. 3 Katherine 17/09/2009 at 17:29

    That’s neat… but do you mean 90 degrees? Or do you usually read at an angle? (Comment’s not meant to be snarky… Just wondering what you meant.)

  4. 4 joe 17/09/2009 at 18:31

    90 degrees, not 45.

  5. 5 c-dub 17/09/2009 at 20:19

    Forty-five degrees is not ninety degrees.

  6. 6 lestaret 17/09/2009 at 22:06

    Excellent! But I can’t help thinking why? I read in bed too – I can’t find the problem. Surely we have been reading in bed for many, many years; if this was a problem, it would, for sure, have been solved by now.

    It’s a lovely idea, really. Nothing more…

    Great blog.

  7. 7 Wouter 17/09/2009 at 22:44

    I just started to read Dwarsligger 2 and I really like it. It reads as easy as a full size book, and I can take it where ever I want. And one can hold it it one hand, so there’s one hand left to hold a nice cup of tea…

    @author: you’ve accidentally written 45 degrees, but the book has to be turned 90 degrees as can be seen on the pictures

  8. 8 dbx 17/09/2009 at 23:56

    45 degrees? you mean… 90?

  9. 9 tudza 18/09/2009 at 01:36

    45 degrees?

  10. 10 glenn 18/09/2009 at 01:47

    to be a “dwarsligger” means to be a contrarian. Literally “dwars-ligger” means to lie (as in lay) across.

  11. 11 anon 18/09/2009 at 06:20

    you mean 90 degrees

  12. 12 benskiben 18/09/2009 at 07:53

    Oops! 90 of course. Changed it. TNX!

  13. 13 david rault 18/09/2009 at 08:47

    Mmmh… The actual book, the one we know and use since 15th century, is made in such a way thet you can put it on your lap and it stays opened, without the help of your thumb’s muscle. With this one, because of our good ol’gravity, the thumb has to stay put and provide a muscular effort to keep the top cover and pages from closing down. This is a poetic idea, but practically stupid.

    • 14 benskiben 18/09/2009 at 09:03

      Well, that’s the smart ting about this book. It’s bound differently, so it doesn’t take any effort to hold the book.

  14. 15 esn 20/09/2009 at 07:14

    While the movable type printing press was invented in the 15th century, the book in codex format (as opposed to scroll format) was actually invented around the 2nd century C.E. I find it a little sad that neither the author nor the commenters seem to know this. Everyone picked up on the technical error of the wrong angle degree, which was clearly a true mistake by the author. The references to the origins of the codex dating to the 15th century is both ignorance and intellectual laziness. For goodness’ sakes, even 30 seconds spent with that international accumulation of inaccuracies, Wikipedia, could have provided the author with correct information if s/he had bothered to do that much research on the topic.

    And frankly I don’t think the format shown here is terribly revolutionary – changing the orientation of text on the page has been done many times through the centuries.

    • 16 seefdublew 20/09/2009 at 13:57

      Get over yourself. The post simply says that the book, as a designed object, hasn’t changed much since the advent of movable type in the 15th century. Even considering your point, that is still an accurate statement. You could certainly expand upon it by pointing out that the codex format is actually far older than movable type, but accusing the author of “ignorance and intellectual laziness” is the worst kind of hyperbole.

  1. 1 Libro « Trackback on 17/09/2009 at 15:47
  2. 2 Rethinking. « .the idiom. Trackback on 17/09/2009 at 21:32
  3. 3 Paper book innovation over due « Abrentisart Blog Trackback on 19/09/2009 at 18:52

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