Do digital books dream of digital readers?

Books, like any other human artifact, aren’t static objects. They evolve, change and adapt themselves, according to the needs and habits of people who use them: they fit into our lives and our worlds. As with any other human-made object, this is not a straightforward process, but one of action and response, where the emergence of a new technology to satisfy existent needs is always producing new needs and new adaptations, which in turn make room for new technological innovation. The printed book is a typical example of this feedback cycle: probably, when Gutenberg perfected the invention, he thought that he was just going to be able to churn out more books at a lower price, and that they would be very similar to the old ones. He couldn’t know that the printing press would be the engine that powered the Protestant Reformation and ultimately produced the eras of Rationalism, Enlightenment and Scientific Revolution.

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