It seems fitting that a book about futuristic America comes in a futuristic skin. Riverhead Books partnered with MakerBot to make the first 3D-printed book slipcover for Chang-rae Lee’s On Such a Full Sea. The book fits into the off-white slipcover, which features the letters of the title rising off its surface at an angle. The publishing world hasn't seen anything like this yet, and for good reason. At first it took almost 30 hours to print each slipcover, but after fine-turning the process, the company was able to get the final slipcovers made in 15 hours. The final books, cover included, will be in limited edition and available starting January 7th for a hefty $150, with non-limited hardcover copies retailing for $27.95.
No matter how laborious the process, we'll be seeing more of this experimentation in the publishing industry. Initially, it's expensive for publishers to invest in something like a 3D-printed slipcover — it may seem simply like eye candy, but it could elevate a book's status from just a book to a luxury item meant to be displayed. As new technologies like 3D printing become easier and more accessible, there are more ways for traditional media to explore, expand, and redefine their worth. So while this book might not be the easiest to fit into your bookshelf, it's a great piece of art to display on your coffee table — and that's exactly its purpose.