From the world of emotions.

Until writing was invented, man lived in acoustic space:
boundless, directionless, horizonless,
in the dark of the mind, in the world of emotion,
by primordial intuition, terror.
Speech is a social chart of this bog.”

– Marshall McLuhan.
The Medium is the Massage, 1967



The photo above was taken by Frederic Ballell in a book market in our neighbourhood  Sant Antoni, in Barcelona, in 1915. We want to use it as a leitmotif to post in our blog today, because apart from the worldwide celebrations on World Book Day on April 23rd, we found out that today is also the 21st year that there’s been a World Book Day celebrated on 1st March  and as book lovers, why not to celebrate twice a year, at least?

We want to make a brief homage to all those researchers, designers and thinkers who are working to blurry the boundaries between formats of this precious object that we call ‘a book,’ and who are taking us from the printed pages to the acoustic space, and the other way around.

We’re back in the acoustic space, so let’s start!

A Book for all readers

In 1900 was published the book A Book for All Readers,  written by Ainsworth Rand Spofford, and published by G. P. Putnam’s sons. It was conceived as a guide to the formation of libraries and the collection, use, and preservation of books. The poem above appears in the chapter ‘humors of the library,’ on page 442.

In 2016, graphic designer Astrid Seme in collaboration with Sizwe Mthethwa and Thapelo Kotlai transformed the aforementioned poem into a rap song. They explain the project, saying that “Rap, a style inherited from poetry, shifts the printed words to A Song for All Readers. Rhyming the oration of the sacred librarian line by line is reminiscent of common practices in protest movements and keeps on demanding #FreeEducationForAll and an open access to knowledge for future readers.”

Play it out loud, here and please, always support free education for all!

Massage McLuhan

In 1967 Marshal McLuhan and Quentin Fiore published the seminal and influential book The Medium is the Massagestating that “modern media are extensions of human senses; they ground us in physicality, but expand our ability to perceive our world to an extent that would be impossible without the media.”

One year later, as a consequential experiment with different kind of media, McLuhan had the idea of creating an audio version of the book, as a reading performance to give voice to the book contents. It was published by Columbia Records in the format of a vinyl LP.

Electric Information Age Book

In 2012, following McLuhan ideas, Jeffrey T. Schnapp and Adam Michaels published the book The Electric Information Age as a collaboration between Inventory Press and Princeton Architectural Press. It has been published in the form of a small, inexpensive paperback with the aim to explore a time span in mass-market publishing in the sixties and seventies.

Like these all paperback editions of the 1960s, Michaels also vindicate the role of the paperback format nowadays in a conversation with Alan Rapp for Domus, “While the publishing industry tends to treat the mass-market paperback as obsolete, I hold the apparently anachronistic view that it remains the ideal format for serious reading.

Electric Information Age Album

Created as an audio extension to The Electric Information Age book, a vinyl LP was made in the spirit of the experimental 1967 The Medium is the Massage LP. Produced by Schnapp, Michaels, and Daniel Perlin —The Masses— it is described by them as the “first spoken arts record you can dance to” based on media theorist Marshall McLuhan’s groundbreaking book of the same name.

Play it out loud, here.

And last but not least, on this World Book Day and coming from the deep world of emotions —all those possible emotions that a book can contain among its pages, including desire, curiosity, terror, fear, passion, sadness, pleasure, confidence, loneliness, wonder, friendship— this is also our personal homage to McLuhan, The Masses, Guy Montag, Alain Resnais and all of you who are working to feed these paper-crunching pseudo-insectsto feed us with your books. And these books can be printed, tweeted, recorded, performed.

The only important thing here is to keep making books.

Play it out loud and make, make, make books.


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