Sunday, September 26, 2010

For the love of a book

Having authored The Groaning Shelf, a little book about books, Pradeep Sebastian wonders if readers are as interested in a book’s physical presence as they are in the literary text between the covers.

After I finished the final draft of The Groaning Shelf, my little book about books, I wondered if the way I had described bibliophiles and their relationships to books came off sounding a little sentimental and nostalgic. Was I displaying too much book-lust, obsessing about dust jackets, first editions, bookshelves, book thieves and agonising about bookstores shutting down, the e-book takeover and the death of the book? I wanted my book to be a tough-minded exploration of the presence of the book in my life, and in the lives of other bibliophiles. The book as physical, material object and caring for it in that way (as much as for the text-the words- inside it). A keen awareness of the book in this sense as something to delight in seemed to be missing from many book lovers in India. Even our authors and literary critics didn't seem to be interested in the book as presence; what absorbed them, what they engaged with was the literary text between the covers.

A book’s bibliographical aspects - edition, typography, design - went mostly ignored. Only a small and scattered band of book historians, publishers, printers, designers and bibliophiles seemed to care about how a book looked and felt.

Full report here Deccan Herald

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