The Electric Information Age Book
McLuhan/Agel/Fiore and the Experimental Paperback
Adam Michaels, Jeffrey T. Schnapp
Publication date 1/4/2012
4.25 x 7 inches (10.8 x 17.8 cm), Paperback
240 pages, 50 color illustrations, 150 b/w illustrations
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The Electric Information Age Book explores the nine-year window of mass-market publishing in the sixties and seventies when formerly backstage players—designers, graphic artists, editors—stepped into the spotlight to produce a series of exceptional books. Aimed squarely at the young media-savvy consumers of the "Electronic Information Age," these small, inexpensive paperbacks aimed to bring the ideas of contemporary thinkers like Marshall McLuhan, R. Buckminster Fuller, Herman Kahn, and Carl Sagan to the masses. Graphic designers such as Quentin Fiore (The Medium is the Massage, 1967) employed a variety of radical techniques—verbal visual collages and other typographic pyrotechnics—that were as important to the content as the text. The Electric Information Age Book is the first book-length history of this brief yet highly influential publishing phenomenon.
Jeffrey T. Schnapp holds the Pierotti Chair in Italian Literature at Stanford, where he founded the Stanford Humanities Lab in 2000 with the aim of creating a transdisciplinary platform for testing out future scenarios for the arts and humanities in a post-print world. Since 2009, he has served as a fellow at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society, and visiting professor in Comparative Literature and at the Graduate School of Design at Harvard University.
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"In this age of diminished print projections,The Electric Information Age Book(to which I contributed an essay) is a paradoxical manifesto on the future of the book...For those of us who refuse to accept the extinction of ink-on-paper books yet embrace the potential of digital media, Michaels and Schnapps homage proves the past can guide the future--- and just as the vinyl record is enjoying a comeback, the kinetic paperback book may have a future too. --Steven Heller"
"Thanks to the scholarship of Schnapp and Michaels, it is impossible to dispute that the books produced by Agel and Fiore pushed the printed page to the limit, and in doing so helped bring crucial ideas about twentieth century culture to an audience that might have otherwise remained oblivious. Think of them as precursors to Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewarts campaign to inform Americans about super PACs.... The Electric Information Age Book compellingly tells the story of an important, albeit short, era in publishing when the insiders were the ones breaking down the walls and changing the rules as they went."
"Fascinating....Ultimately, The Electric Information Age Book is about what made this collaborative book innovation which McLuhan called the mosaic of instantaneous communication, the process rather than the complete product of discoveryextraordinary at the time, but also about how it paved the way for the tectonic shifts happening in media today, with our customizable iEverything and highly visual neo-magazines a-la-Flipboard."
Its Nice That:
"This retrospective is entirely readable and just plain beautiful. A collage-y design and unexpected typography lend sincerity to the project, which seems as much about informing the reader as it is about celebrating the original work. Very interesting. "
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