Early hypertext theorists seemed to point toward a future in which the many texts with which readers and researchers engage would be richly interconnected and weblike, permitting that engagement to fully instantiate the ideas proposed in some poststructuralist theory. The chunked, rhizomatic text would produce a reader who was a full partner with the author in the text’s production. Texts, it seemed, would become multimodal, fluid, and nonlinear.
But by and large they haven’t. The shape of the book remains very much what it has for centuries been: linear, textual, and relatively solid. This comparative stability in the face of massive technological (and not insignificant social) change — including the movement of the book onto networked screens — leads me to believe that the bookness of the book inheres in something other than its delivery system: it’s not about the print, or the binding, but something else.