Electrified Books

David Gelernter of Yale University recently made some interesting predictions about the future of books in the “Room For Debate” section of the NY Times

I assume that technology will soon start moving in the natural direction: integrating chips into books, not vice versa. I might like to make a book beep when I can’t find it, search its text online, download updates and keep an eye on reviews and discussion. This would all be easily handled by electronics worked into the binding. Such upgraded books acquire some of the bad traits of computer text — but at least, if the circuitry breaks or the battery runs out, I’ve still got a book.

Matthew Battles notes that electronics have already crept into the codex, like RFID tags, and asks interesting questions about what else could be done for the book.

Could little piezoelectric sensors be incorporated in the binding to furnish a digital "bookmark"? Would it be useful to store the resulting data somewhere to track how quickly you read the book? How could the digitized text of a bound book be linked to/accessed/interacted with, within the confines of the codex, to enhance the reading experience?