Krissy Wilson‘s Tumblr project, The Art Of Google Books, works on our nostalgia for both the printed word and our (now long gone) wide-eyed awe at digitizing it. Google Books was born in 2004, when accessing print works online was still a cutting-edge idea. Now that almost every new book and many older ones are released in ebook format, we take the availability of print media online for granted.
Wilson’s Tumblr explores the intersection of the human and digital in scanned books, the traces that people have left behind on otherwise sterile works: stains, rips, and badly scanned, crumpled pages. Most fascinating are the ephemera of the physical library system; the stamps, due dates, slips and signed names that feel unbelievably antiquated, though they’re still in use many places today. Many critics of the Internet have bemoaned what ebooks will do to our reading experience, but if anything, the pervasiveness of pristine digital copies only makes encounters with yesterday’s readers more meaningful–like discovering a message in a bottle.