The Electric Information Age Book (to be published, January, 2012)


Jeffrey Schnapp spoke at the recent International McLuhan conference in Toronto. This book will be of interest to anyone interested in new book styles, formats and the arrival of e-books; it covers the Jerome Agel and Quentin Fiore book collaborations with Marshall McLuhan in detail (The Medium is the Massage, War & Peace in the Global Village).

In the video below made in 2015 after the book was published in 2012, Professor Jeffrey Schnapp talks about the future of paper and electronic books and how the attitude to books changed with the appearance of television. He also considers what mixed forms of printed media were created, starting with  The Medium is the Massage. How is knowledge conveyed in contemporary society? When this video was made in 2015, Schnapp was a Professor of Romance Languages & Literature in Harvard Graduate School of Design.

The Electric Information Age Book is a collaboration between myself [Jeffrey Schnapp] and designer Adam Michaels of Project Projects (NYC) in the form of an excavation of a moment from the e-Book’s prehistory and metabook on a cut-and-paste genre of original paperbacks. The book explores on a time span in mass-market publishing in the sixties and seventies when former backstage players—designers, graphic artists, editors, “coordinators,” and “producers”—stepped into the spotlight to create a set of exceptional paperback books. The period begins in 1966 when Jerome Agel and Quentin Fiore, in collaboration with Marshall McLuhan, first developed The Medium Is the Massage into “an inventory of effects,” and continues to 1975, the publication year of Other Worlds, Agel’s collaboration with the exobiologist Carl Sagan. Graphic designers such as Fiore employed a variety of radical techniques—verbal visual collages and other typographic pyrotechnics—that were as important to the content as the text. Aimed squarely at the young media-savvy consumers of the “Electric Information Age,” these small, inexpensive paperbacks brought the ideas of contemporary thinkers to mass audiences and established a distinctive new graphics-rich, montage-based genre of bookmaking that still resonates loudly today.

 Jeffrey Schnapp

Jeffrey T. Schnapp occupied the Pierotti Chair of Italian Studies at Stanford, where he founded and led the Stanford Humanities Lab in 2000. A cultural historian with research interests extending from antiquity to the present, his most recent books are Speed Limits and The Electric Information Age Book (forthcoming).

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