Sunday, December 18, 2011
I grew up in a home where once a book crossed the threshold it didn't leave. Thus, later in life, I have always been surprised when entering a home devoid of bookcases. I can understand the absence of artwork on the walls. Art can be expensive. Not everyone had a painter in the home like we did (my father). But no books?
Only recently have I taken to purging my library. No reason to keep a book I've already read and didn't care for. I'm now putting a little more consideration into my book purchases. But I'm still growing the library.
So when I enter a home and can't spy a single book, I shake my head. Who are these people?
Then I saw the above book and felt vindicated. Apparently there are enough other people like me to form a sufficient audience to offset the cost of printing and distribution of a book about books. An audience that considers every flat surface as a viable landing site for a book or magazine.
Last week The Oregonian ran an oped from an antiquarian book collector/dealer who begged people not to ruin the value of books by writing inscriptions in the front or scribbling notes throughout. I've always made a habit of writing an inscription when I give a book as a gift. So I was a little taken aback by the recommendation.
This Sunday the paper included responses to the "don't scribble" opinion. Once again I was vindicated.
In the world of rare and collectible books, inscriptions and notes may be ruinous. But I find it intriguing to read these notations in a used book. It sets my imagination into motion. Who were the giver and recipient? Why was that particular book selected? What did the reader think of the book? It's especially fun in older books with a history (from gift to library to used book store).
So, as a book inscriber and book keeper, it was nice to learn I'm not alone in my bookish habits.