Today I read a sensible take on the “death of the book” by science fiction author Ursula K. LeGuin. The most profound the idea mentioned in the essay is information atrophy– that ebooks and other electronic documents will fall apart, or turn to gibberish if not attended to. It is something I hadn’t really considered, but imagining it creates scenarios loaded with dramatic potential– more stories to be written!
I don’t have much to say about the “death of the book.” Or, maybe I have too much to say about it for this post. I welcome new technologies in publishing and reading. It’s an exciting time to be a reader. LeGuin argues that we do more reading than we ever have, and that online life is made of words and the act of reading and writing. New technologies mean it’s also an exciting time to be a writer. I have always loved the DIY aspect of the internet, and it has enabled me to not only open my own shop selling my designs but to also publish a novel. (The Desperate Ones available as a print-on-demand paperback, pdf and ebook.)
I confess I don’t like reading on a screen. I am one of those people that will smell a book when I open it, and will feel the pages, press them down with my palm, trace the crease in the spine with my finger. I have a friend who repairs books and has often written about the delicate process of restoration. I picture her as a kind of biblio-nurse, keeping books alive. After all, books have always been made from living things– trees, skin. It seems e-books of the future will need nurses, too.
My iPad, only two years old, has already stopped working. Oh the hubris! I imagined I would build a library that would fit in my sachel, only to find as the little contraption died, so did the few books I’d managed to download on it. A short lived fantasy, this idea that a device could replace or even supplement my personal library. In the last seven years l’ve lived in 8 different places. Each wasn’t home until I could put up some sort of bookshelf. And yet these books came with me and have become a permanent part of my life. Until technology can promise some kind of continuity parallel to this, I will view it with suspicion.
When I photograph my designs I use book covers, pages and piles of books as my backgrounds. It still gives me a thrill, lining up my books. Perhaps it comes form the weekly trip to the library as a child where I could pick out anything I liked and live with it for a week or two. I still feel like that when I go into a library, that one is entering some dragon’s hoard of delights. (Please visit your local library! Love it and save it from the beastly policy makers who would strangle it!) I wanted to capture that feeling of wonder with my jewelry, much of which is inspired by fairy tales, folklore and even characters in novels.
The grimoire bookmark designs were born of my love of reading and of books. I wanted to make something for other book lovers and people who loved jewelry but rarely wore it themselves. I wanted bling for books, something to mark a book on a shelf and that would be satisfying to hold while reading and feel weighty enough to hold ones place– an important job– in any tome.
So, dearest reader, what are you reading and how do you mark your place?