Adobe MAX Education Summit: Books in Print and Books on Screen

I had the chance to speak at the Adobe MAX Education Summit this October in Los Angeles. The talk I gave was entitled, “Books in Print and Books on Screen.” I spoke about changing conditions in the publishing industry, book design and some of the opportunities designers and publishers have in this very new era of mobile publishing.

I also relayed our experience at VFS Digital Design working with the Adobe Digital Publishing Suite (DPS), and showcased some of our best student work, both in print and mobile. We’ve had so much fun making children’s books as part of our Communication Design stream. A couple have even been published, such as Lady Treble and the Seven Notes by Eliyana Biklou, and The Many Faces of Peter (which we just blogged about) by Keiko Furukawa.

Frequently, in our Communication Design classes, we have used briefs involving children’s books (or a children’s picture book format intended for teens or adults) and we talked about how that has helped us organize a curriculum which allows us to introduce storyboarding and character design (sketching by hand), illustration and rasterizered graphics (Illustrator and Photoshop — two of the more intuitive Adobe Programs for new students) and then InDesign and Acrobat follow. Up until now, that arc has concluded with either a fixed ePub format (a PDF) or a printed book. With the DPS, we can now have an alternate end product which is interactive: an app. This is great for a number of reasons, but one which I enjoy as a teacher is that it provides an exciting learning experience for students who are not as focused on print as much as on interactivity or even motion design.

As a communication designer, I am also really looking forward to creating apps, as well as traditional books. There will always be a special place in my heart for ink on paper, and I don’t foresee giving up my regular practice. However,  I feel that the app format opens up a lot of great opportunities for organic developments in the form of the book. It is a very interesting time. If I start to think about how much Western thought developed (and permanently altered) once the printed word came on the scene with Gutenberg, the possibilities for real change, now that the printed form is really altering, is slightly mind boggling. How will this affect type design, or even our brains? What will a book look like in 200 years? Or even 20? I think we will hold onto traditional formats, but it’s impossible that some big changes won’t come too. It’s an interesting time to be a young designer.

Some of the developments presented at Adobe Max that are likely to make an impact are the acquisition of Typekit, which broadens editable typeface choices for web designers, and the release of a “Single Edition” DPS plugin for releasing apps on iTunes created in InDesign.

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