Articles Editors Five Minutes With London Design Festival

Five Minutes With: Emilia Spitz and Linda Uruchurtu, The Ballet Bag

Five Minutes Interview at London Design Festival: “Ebooks and Kindle, or ebook readers in general, will become ‘the new paperback’.” Emilia Spitz and Linda Uruchurtu, co-founders, The Ballet Bag, observe that despite the digital crossover, digitisation also has encouraged the return to typography and illustrations in book design, and the emergence of niche book shops. Spitz and Uruchurtu write about dancers, companies, performances and about how web 2.0 has changed the way the audience look at and interact with the ballet art form. The Ballet Bag was appointed by The Royal Opera House to be their first official Twitterer for Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

Royal Ballet’s Marianela Nuñez and Thiago Soares getting ready for The Ballet Bag feature. Directing the shoot are editors Emilia Spitz (pictured, second from left) and Linda Uruchurtu (third from left). Photo © Zarina Holmes

Q. What do you think will become of books?

Linda: I think print will remain and ebooks and Kindle (or ebook readers in general) will become “the new paperback”. People who value good design, who like their physical libraries and experiencing a book from cover to cover, will keep investing in print and collecting books they love. I have noticed that publishers are increasingly investing in new, revamped and improved hardback editions of the classics, sometimes with funky typography and illustrations. In digital, the trend is for different media crossover, creating new forms of storytelling. In a way, books are evolving and going back to basics at the same time.

Personally, I tend to purchase both Kindle and hardback versions. It is so convenient to pack your iPad for when you’re on the go, but when at home I would rather grab my heavy hardback.

Emilia: I agree with Linda. It all seems to be going in the same direction as CDs and vinyls. And it’s interesting to note that “indie” or niche bookshops such as Daunt and Persephone, and collector books are doing well again after the big threat of retail giants like Borders (RIP) and Waterstone’s.

Q. What will audience learn from the event?

Linda: Hopefully we can convince the audience that the internet has made it possible for everyone to become a storyteller and to have a voice…

Emilia: … and that books are things of beauty. Maybe I will bring some of my favorite specimens along!

Q. What is your favourite book? By author/photographer, design or publisher?

Linda: Tough one, but the “Lord of the Rings Trilogy” was probably the series of books that I wanted to re-read as soon as I had finished them. More recently, I was very pleased to find Jonathan Safran Foer’s “Tree of Codes”, which is a very interesting book created from bits and pieces of the author’s favourite novel, “The Street of Crocodiles” by Bruno Schulz. The composition and overall design completely challenge the traditional reading experience.

Emilia: Easy one for me: “Middlemarch” by George Elliot – great story, well structured, told in stylish prose. First of all, I am a great fan of the British classics and second, even though I may be more emotionally connected to a few other books, “Middlemarch” is an all-rounder: a truly perfect book.

Q. What was the last book you read? Or published!

Linda: Niall Ferguson’s “The Ascent of Money” and George R. R. Martin’s “A Dance with Dragons” from his “A Song of Ice and Fire” series.

Emilia: “Bossypants” by the hilarious Tina Fey.

Q. Finally: Kindle, PDF, HTML – or print?

Linda: All of them.

Emilia: one for each occasion!


On 17 September 2011, Sojournposse will be presenting a new event for The London Design Festival 2011, “Whatever is to become of books?” at University College London. Tickets are available on Eventbrite. £1 of each ticket sale from this non-profit event will go towards a photobook app project which supports the Japan Red Cross tsunami drive. Please follow our updates on Twitter at @sojournposseF8, following the hashtags #LDF11 and #storyofbooks. We are also on Facebook and Google+.

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