Alex Olivier

Book 2013

Book 2013 is a series of handcrafted, responsive e-reader covers that situate book arts in the digital age.


As e-readers become more popular, many bibliophiles lament the decline of the traditional tangible book in favor of anonymized gadgets and apps. Book 2013 explores how technology can be used to leverage an equally valuable, but modernized branch of book arts. A series of protective covers for e-readers, each Book 2013 cover reacts to a user's reading habits in a different way. Whether displaying book progress, current book title, or a favorite quotation, Book 2013 is able to dynamically create a new cover for digital books. Each cover in the series uses a blend of traditional book arts and e-textile technology to preserve the feel of a traditional hardback book.

From the tablet perspective, I researched both Kindle and Android app development. MobileReadForums gave me an insight into Kindle hacking. I rooted my Kindle, dove into the Kindle API, and read about the Kindle's electronics to determine if and how I would send data from Kindle to external electronics. On the Android side, I read Hello, Android to get me started with app development and the Android docs.

Aesthetically, I started by examining a lot of existing book covers and existing book art. I read many books about book cover design, including Penguin 75 and Penguin by Design. I read books physical book construction (Bookbinding and Conservation (Don Etherington), The Penland Book of Homemade Books, and others I flipped through at bookstores) to get a better idea of how to create book covers.

I was also extremely active on the blog, Here I was able to see what other people were exploring, using books as materials and inspiration. I looked at hundreds of pages and saved many of the images for inspiration.

On the tech crafts side of things, I drew a large amount of inspiration from High-Low Tech at the Media Lab, especially Jie Qui and Hannah Perner-Wilson's work. Hannah, Jie, and Catarina Mota's OpenMaterials site gave me useful how-tos for working with muscle wire, thermochromic pigments, and circuits on paper.

Lastly, I read Sherry Turkle's Alone Together, which gave me conceptual insight onto the ways technology isolates us socially.

I learned so much about physically making books and book covers as well as creating beautiful circuits on paper. I I think that I achieved my goals aesthetically, but would really like to increase the level of data that i can display on my covers. After getting a lot of feedback, I've decided to explore the deeper social ramifications of my project. I want to extend the project beyond the design explore ways to create more meaningful moments between people through technology.