The Case for CodeX

Ed Finn and Joey Eschrich argue for the need to replace the word “ebook”:

We need to embrace digital reading as its own medium, not just a book under glass. That means imagining a new language for reading as an experience, starting with a new word to use instead of book.

Their solution comes from “a crack team of novelists, journalists, and publishers conducting a gonzo experiment in the future of publishing”:

With some trepidation, we would like to nominate codex, a word with a rich history that most of us don’t know anything about. Codex, derived from the Latin caudex (meaning “trunk of a tree”) even happens to contain the English word code, which will be central to the future of reading in a variety of ways. The things we’ll be reading in the future will not only involve a lot of programming; they’ll also require readers to decode complex, multilayered experiences and encode their own ideas as contributions in a variety of creative ways. Since standard printed books are technically codices, we propose (with significantly more trepidation) to distinguish our variant with one of those annoying midword capitals: codeX, to remind us that these new things involve experience, experimentation, expostulation … you know, all those X things.

They go on to refer to X-Men and the X games and make other arguments.

I’m not sure I agree with all the reasoning here, and I’m not even sure you can improve on the word ebook, which to my ear conveys a notion of these things being booklike but slightly different, with the e as the subtly perfect stand-in for the difference. How many calls for renaming email have you heard lately?

That said, I do like the nod to the old texts that you get with codex. Now that I’ve gone through the process, I feel like there’s something very monklike in handcrafting your own book.

Image credit: monstrousbeauty.blogspot.com

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