Long live the Book

Mermaid Grimoire Bookmark by Feral Strumpet

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?

7 thoughts on “Long live the Book

  1. Ah, the preciousness of books! Nothing can take the place of a book, with its mysterious content — until one opens it, or reads the cover synopsis — nothing is better than a book from the library, or from the fast-disappearing local bookstore. I once lived in a small city without a library (only for 4 months!) and the city was a reflection on the barrenness of life without readers. Dull, crime-ridden, with an emphasis on superficial living. Books are gifts: with excitement, thought-provoking ideas, questions/answers. They are a microcosm of life itself. Books are Life! Thanks, purrlygirl, for your urgent reminder to the world of technology that books must remain alive.

  2. I am surprised no publisher has offered a free ebook with purchase of a hard copy, like music labels have been doing with vinyl lp’s. Love the mermaid! all mermaids in fact. drc

  3. Dylan, that would be amazing to see small presses do something like that, or artisan bookmakers do that. Maybe somebody already is. Even though the music industry is truly messed up, it seems that musicians have been able to harness new technology in order to distribute their work in better ways than writers have done. There is still a ton of stigma with DIY in the publishing community, whereas in music it’s just part of that punk aesthetic/attitude.

  4. my aunt and uncle both write and it is really strange, the way authors(esp. poets) are so competitive and shackled to the book industry, In finland right now. All the best. drc

  5. Dylan, I know what you mean. It’s mystifying. The smaller the pie, the uglier the fights. It’s like some episode of the Twilight Zone where people will kill each other over what they think is the last bit of food when if they just looked outside there’s a whole bounty of new options available, but they are wedded to this old, institutionalized struggle.

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