The very name of the Kindle Paperwhite, the latest version of Amazon’s e-reader, says a lot about the state of e-books today. Convenient though they may be, as far as our eyeballs are concerned, ink on paper still sets the standard. But even as e-ink gets more ink-like and display pixels continue to shrink into ocular oblivion, e-books will never be able to replicate the tactile sensation of reading a real book. A recent project by a Polish art student, however, shows how we might preserve that familiar experience while still exploring the possibilities afforded by electronic books–not by translating physical tomes into digital apps, but by transforming the books themselves into electronic interfaces.
Waldek Węgrzyn created his hybrid book, Elektrobiblioteka, as the final project for his masters degree at the Academy of Fine Arts in Katowice, Poland. Inspired by a manifesto published by El Lissitzky in 1923, the project is a considerably more literal interpretation of an “e-book” than the digital files we download from Amazon. It is, first and foremost, a book–a bound volume with front and back covers and a number of pages in between. The text, in fact, is Węgrzyn’s master thesis.