"BookDrum.com and the future of the Book"

 

For some time now, there has been a lot of discussion, a lot of worry, about the future of the book. People are trying to predict where the book is going, while watching e-readers spread through the populace like oil through water. People are wondering what place the bulky, primitive artifact of the bound book will have in the world, and how it will endure the Digital Age. While it is hard to give a concrete answer to this question, Book Drum.com offers one compelling option.

Book Drum takes selected books and integrates other media with the printed word page by page. For example, if you’re interested in Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar, you can read about the Barbizon Hotel, a women-only hotel that was Plath’s inspiration for the Amazon, described as catering solely to women as well. You can also learn more about people and cultural items referenced in Plath’s book, complete with pictures of these people and things. These multimedia inclusions are called “Bookmarks,” and they sometimes even feature videos, such as one of Plath reading her poem “Daddy,” or a historical video about Coney Island in the 1940’s (both bookmarks for The Bell Jar).

The site also has reviews of the books, detailed descriptions of their settings, and glossaries, which help to further explain the allusions in a text. At Book Drum, anybody can become a contributor, so if you are looking for a new way to explore your favorite books, this is a unique way to do it. Their open policy is why the site has such varied archives—the writers of these exceptional descriptions are just as varied. Of course, the site has its own editors to maintain the legitimacy of the contributions, so you can be sure the details you are reading about have met careful eyes.

Things like Book Drum.com are glimpses into what path the book can be expected to take, I believe. The internet brings together all forms of media, and I think it was just a matter of time before the same thing was done with the book. Not only does the site offer further understanding of a book itself, but it expands the text and pushes it beyond the boundaries of the page. In the same way people can hear about a band, read their Wikipedia article, their reviews, and watch their music videos or interviews, Book Drum.com allows people to do this with their favorite books, adding so much to an already beloved text.

by Jeremy Bauer, Ball State English Department

 

Other recent blogs about Book Drum include:

Cynthia Giles: http://elixabet.typepad.com/the_writers_office/2011/01/book-drum-2011.html

Peter Steinberg: http://sylviaplathinfo.blogspot.com/2011/01/bell-jar-annotated.html