Presentation Details

The Second International Conference on the Future of the Book

Virtual Gems for Both Sides of Your Brain: Fulfilling the Promise of Electronic Books

William Harroff, Charlotte Johnson.

How many printed books can tell you their own stories…? -interactively sing with you? -sound out, spell or define each word in virtually any language? -demonstrate an activity? -be rendered in unmatched color? -remain up-to-date? –be stored with thousands of similar publications in the same small container?

American children receive electronic books before they are able to walk, much less read. Stores are filled with publications for toddlers masquerading as toys before the traditional fragile media of paper is introduced to them. Even when print books are purchased, they often include embedded electronic chips, audiocassettes, video games and related CD-ROMs. With this type of introduction to reading, it is unrealistic to believe that more sophisticated digital publications will not be demanded by today's children, young adults and adults.

Who are the creators taking best advantage of the revolutionary media? What digital authoring tools are they using? How are they distributing their works to a waiting public?

Critically acclaimed digital publications such as de Vicq de Cumptich’s Bembo’s Zoo; Cockburn and Finlay’s The Order of Things; Hashemi’s Of Shifting Shadows; Patrito’s Sinkha Hyleyn; and Demian 5’s When I Am King explore significant issues such as the redefinition of the reading, writing and artmaking processes; literacy; the future of information delivery; and digital rights management. The end result is that viewers re-imagine the book, expand their definition of ebooks beyond the narrow one propagated by commercial publishers, and never think of a book in the same way, again.


William Harroff  (United States)
Reference & Information Technologies Librarian, Assistant Professor
Holman Library
McKendree College

Harroff has received an NEA Regional fellowship, an NEA RAP grant, a Ragdale Foundation residency and top honors in several international art competitions. He holds degrees with Highest Distinction from Purdue, Indiana University and the ISBK (Austria). His artwork has been profiled in leading art journals such as AfterImage, Art Calendar and Contemporary Impressions. He has lectured extensively on electronic bookworks and has held faculty positions at McKendree College, SIUE and Oklahoma State

Charlotte Johnson  (United States)
Director of User Services, Associate Professor
Lovejoy Library
Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville

Director of User Services at SIUE's Lovejoy Library with a B.S. in Art Education and an M.A. in Library Science from the University of Wisconsin, has been creating artist’s books since the 1970s. Her books have been exhibited throughout the US and Europe. As a hand papermaker and typographer, she has studied ancient texts and bookforms in Japan, Nepal, Turkey, Iran, Egypt and Russia. She has participated in many ebook conferences and helped introduce ebooks to Illinois academic libraries.

  • Book arts
  • Children’s electronic books
  • Comic books
  • Digital rights
  • Ebook evolution
  • Ebook authoring
  • Electronic literacy
  • Electronic poetry
  • Graphic novels
  • Lianhuanhua / Mahnwa / Manga

(Virtual Presentation, English)