Now that Joe and I have wrapped our talk about “Structure and Typography” at BookCamp Toronto 2010 and the aforementioned announcement has been publicly made in front of living, breathing human beings, here’s the scoop — I, along with members of the Estate of Marshall McLuhan will be publishing the first official (read: legitimate) digital editions of Marshall’s work.
We’ll be starting with Laws of Media written with his eldest son, Eric, along with The Gutenberg Galaxy with the goal of releasing both either towards the end of 2010 or the beginning of 2011 in order to coincide with Marshall’s centenary. Not coincidentally, a much needed new site for the McLuhan Estate will also launch around the same time.
What about his other books? The answer is complicated, but ultimately “we don’t know… yet.” We’ve started necessary conversations and hope those will be available in due course.
That said, as was discussed today during our talk, and subsequently, some books may demand a physical artifact. They may not be ‘translatable’. Art books or highly art directed books for example; at least not in the open-source ePub format which is how we’d like to see these digital editions released.
This is arguably an experiment and will not be easy for many reasons — sorting out electronic publication rights (in at least one instance), editorial and design challenges, as well as handling divergent digital formats.
If important books such as McLuhan’s are going to make the jump to digital successfully, they deserve to have the same care and attention put into them as their printed counterparts — and we’re in the best position to ensure that happens.