With the increasing popularity and variety of e-readers these days, physical books might be one of those things our children will never know, see, or use. Is that too extreme to imagine? If you’re curious to know what that world would be like, Argentinean publisher Eterna Cadencia might be scaring us into this mentality with a new book design that utilizes a sense of expiration.
Prepackaged in a sealed, airlock bag, the book titled El Libro Que No Puede Esperar — which translates to “The Book That Can’t Wait” — is printed entirely with invisible ink. When a reader takes the book out of its package, he or she has up to four months to finish reading the Latin American literature within before the ink slowly fades away due to exposure to air and light. Once the ink is gone, the book becomes just your average blank notepad. This concept, which won three gold medals and a Bronze Lion at Cannes 2012 Festival of Creativity, pushes readers to actually get through the book in a respectable time, but won’t be popular among those who want to reread stories, or want to pass it on to a friend.
From our interpretation, the design seems like a statement to the disappearing value of books since it can no longer be physically shared between people and instead, sent to one another in electronic forms. It’s also interesting to think about it from an author’s perspective of knowing that their pieces of literature has to be enjoyed within a certain span of time before it’s no longer viewable. On one hand, this speaks to the Web’s permanence (since the Internet never forgets!) while the other shows that we might be taking these ‘old-fashioned’ items for granted. I don’t know about you, but I loved when my older cousins handed books down. It felt like an act of compassion; to learn more about books that have changed someone’s life or perspective. Sharing books in an electronic form is as good as sending e-cards versus handwritten ones.
So what do you guys think of the book with an expiration date: gimmicky or meaningful? While you decide, here’s a video of how El Libro Que No Puede Esperar was put together.