Saturday 1488 21st January 2012
I didn’t set foot outside the house today, partly because it was raining most of the day but also because I hadn’t felt particularly well all week and that, coupled with a very busy and stressful working week, meant that the house was in a bit of a mess! Housework is soooo dull ( for another post? )
Naturally, as I always do, I got sidetracked! I decided I would look at my books. “Look at her books? Doesn’t she mean read books?” I can hear you thinking “what is she on about now?”
Well you see I collect books, 1st Editions or Limited Editions mostly and I have some really beautiful ones. They range from Rupert Bear to Wisdens, Sebastion Faulks, to James Joyce, Ted Hughes to Edward Gorey, to name but a few.. Some are very old, some more modern editions. Some are signed by the author or illustrator or both. Some are that most sumptuous of book made by Private Presses from beautiful paper with gorgeous dustjackets and decorative endpapers.
I thought I would share some of them with you to show you what I love about books as works of art, but first…
When I was looking at them it got me thinking about eBook readers. When the eBook reader ( carefully avoiding advertising here 🙂 ) first came out I remember thinking. Oh, for goodness sake. Do we have to have electronic everything. What’s wrong with paper books. I like to sit on a train and surreptitiously look at the cover of the books people are reading to see what the book is. Not possible if they’re reading a kindle…grrrr
Then I got worried that people would stop buying paper books and even more worried that publishers, especially small publishing houses would stop producing limited edition beautiful books. It felt to me like an attack on our cultural soul.
Also, I imagine it will be easy to pirate eBooks and this will surely affect profits for publishers and payments for authors, don’t you think?
I haven’t bought an eBook reader and have no particular desire to do so, as of this moment, but then I am a bit of a luddite where some technology is concerned and tend not to follow the next electronic craze…
I can see how useful an eBook reader could be. It’s lightweight, doesn’t take up much room and probably best of all, if your eyesight is failing, you can make the font bigger so it’s easier to read. Hmmmm I’m starting to warm to the idea!
I can see too that it would be great if students didn’t have to carry around loads of heavy books but could have them all stored and updated on an eReader; probably less expensive too.
They could get stolen or lost so that all your books are lost too, break or run out of battery just when you get to the interesting bit because you forgot to charge it.
So will the paper book survive the electronic onslaught?
For most fiction especially airport type blockbuster popular fiction sadly I think the eReader will have ( has had) an enormous impact, but just as television didn’t kill the radio ( although it was widely thought that it would ) and the Internet didn’t kill TV ( though it was widely thought that it would ! ) I don’t think the eReader will finish off the paper book altogether though it has and will severely reduce the numbers produced. It will also reduce the numbers of trees planted and then cut down to produce paper. Is that a good thing?
It’s a matter of aesthetics and the pull of history. There will always be those of us who love the feel , the weight, the smell, the beauty of a paper book; the sharing of a physical book with a friend ( you can hardly lend an eBook! Actually legally I don’t think you can though you can lend an eReader loaded with a book? ) . Large illustrated books too do not do well on eReaders
I think there will always be a market for beautifully produced limited edition books which will be works of art but these are likely to be very expensive so only available to collectors or the very rich. Mind you maybe that was always the way?
So back to my books…below are some photos to give you an idea of why I love the paper book in all it’s glory. Ohhh it was hard to choose which ones to show you!
Click on any picture for a better look.
1st up the Pennyroyal editions of Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, designed and illustrated by Barry Moser with one of the illustrations below them of Tweedledum and Tweedledee.
Next up The Book of Ruth one of only a 1000 copies published by Bobbs-Merrill in America with the most sumptuous paper and glorious typeface.
Next is a copy DH Lawrence Love Among The Haystacks published by the Nonesuch Press. Very plain dustjacket but lovely book underneath and a limited edition..
I could be here all day adding books but I think I should probably be doing other things! So I will just add a few more random photos to illustrate my love of the paper version of books which will always stay with me – an eReader could never replace that!
Look below at the page edges and yellow/ green cover of the little book above called Latterday Symphony – A thing of Beauty is indeed a joy forever.
If you love books too buy them or lose them !
Ps take a look at Photomania too 🙂