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A prehistory of the interactive reader and design principles for storytelling in postdigital culture

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This article examines historical examples to illuminate a prehistory of the interactive reader in analogue media, tracing a rich genealogy that is helpful for understanding and designing current works such as augmented reality (AR) books. In addition, a set of generative design strategies to help shape current practice are discussed, based both on formal qualities and characteristics of historical examples and the authors’ own experiences as designers working in mixed reality over many years. Theoretical framing is provided to persuasively make the case for the relevance of historical works for designers today. From medieval manuscripts, to Renaissance medical texts, to seventeenth, eighteenth and nineteenth century movable books, to the elaborate paper engineering of twentieth century and contemporary pop-up books, the history of the active reader and interactive book design is long and fascinating, and is presented here as an important and direct source of inspiration for digital designers today. Finally, recent interactive book projects designed by the authors are discussed and analyzed for both continuities and disruptions of historical interactive book design strategies, and a framework is presented for conceptualizing the postdigital interactive reader today.
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Keywords: augmented reality; book history; design; interactivity; media archaeology; movable books

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 0000000122540954University of Skövde

Publication date: May 1, 2020

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  • Book 2.0 is a new, interdisciplinary peer-reviewed journal which aims to publish articles and reviews on developments in book creation and design, (including the latest progressions in technology and software affecting illustration, design and book production). It will also explore innovations in distribution, marketing and sales, and book consumption, and in the research, analysis and conservation of book-related professional practices. Book 2.0 aims to provide a forum for promoting and sharing the most original and progressive practice in the teaching of writing, illustration, book design and production, and publishing across all educational sectors.
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