Sunday, 13 December 2015

Writing - Book collecting

Don't you just love people. They have the infinite capacity to oversimplify and never be completely wrong, while still being wrong.

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A friend was talking about ebooks as opposed to the tangible paperbacks and summed up the situation that ebooks were on the decline because people prefer holding a 'proper' book in their hands.

I have to agree - not about the demise of ebooks - I think people of our generation (baby boomers) do prefer holding a book but that was what we were brought up to. Ebooks will always be popular because of their convenience. 

I have had thousands of books many of which have been redistributed into the second hand book world usually in the aid of charity. However, I do like to hold a book as I'm settling down to read. On holiday my tablet with Kindle app comes into its own. 

The one doesn't exclude the other.

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Howard Jacobson

An avid book collector and writer, Howard Jacobson, was discussing his relationship with books.

A lifetime of collecting books has left the writer Howard Jacobson with back injuries, a lack of living space and a sense of sheer pointlessness. But he'd do it all over again.

However, unlike Mr Jacobson the house I was raised in didn't have a library, in fact I've never lived in a house big enough to boast such a room. I imagine that is like the majority of people but it has never stopped us from owning and reading books. We are just better at recycling!

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Of course we can store books as in the above Xmas Tree. I am aware that ebooks are even more easily stored, but there is something about the printed word on a smooth page that gives me that warm fuzzy feeling of comfort.

Then old books could be described as holding a health risk in these days of health and safety. The pages become damp and smelly, they hold mould and of course other people have touched them!

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Smelly old books

A sad situation would be seen if people had to protect themselves against germ ridden books. It would certainly see that demise of libraries, second hand book sales, in fact printed books.

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Even looking at the books rotting in the above pick leaves me with a degree of sadness and also curiosity as to what lies between their covers.

Jacobson bemoans the advent of the internet and the ease with which you can read poetry or pick up book extracts and describes the qualities he sees in 'real' books.
He says,

Books breathe as trees breathe. When all the books have gone our mental climate will have changed. It's a question whether we'll survive. Technology cannot replace a book. No matter that I can quickly find a digital version of a novel I'm looking for, I still fly into a rage when I discover I no longer have it, and remember who borrowed and didn't return it, five, 10, 20 years ago. For it is irreplaceable. It has my scribblings in it. The marginal expletives. The turned-down pages. The bus ticket or taxi receipt or even billet doux employed as a bookmark - not just the marginalia of an intellectual life but the detritus of the heart. And that you don't get on a Kindle, or a free e-book courtesy of Project Gutenberg. What you can't bend or throw or write on isn't, in the end, literature.

I particularly like the last sentence.

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It is with pride that I bought my almost one year old grandson his first Christmas book from granddad. Santa will deposit under the tree for the magical day of course, but it isn't his first book. He has been read to from very early in his life and is becoming well-versed in the talents of Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler.

So don't kid yourselves, you techowizards, that the honest to goodness printed book is dead, in my summation it never will be.

God Bless