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Page Feel

Posted by Ta-metru_defender , in Essays, Not Rants! Apr 15 2017 · 62 views

Essays, Not Rants! 264: Page Feel

I read a lot. This is partly a byproduct of having grown up a bookworm and partly having taken a course of studied that meant a lot of reading. Like a lot a lot. Since graduating, I’ve kept it up best I can and I’m sitting at fifteen-odd books in the past eleven months.

Like I said, reading a lot.

A side effect of this is that I have a wonderful bookshelf. You’ve got Ulysses there and the first volume of Saga there with CS Lewis’ Of Other Worlds. I like it, in part because it’s an egotistical testament to All The Books.

I mean, it’s kinda why I had a BluRay collection for a while. I love special features and stuff, but there’s also the fun of being able to tell a lot about a person based on what movies, games, books, music they own. But I’ve slowly been relying more on Netflix, etc for movies and tv with only really special things (Star Wars) getting bought. So books is the thing on my shelves.

And I’m moving in a couple months, which means packing everything up and hauling it down six(!) flights of stairs and to wherever I’m off to next. Which means packing up All The Books. And carrying All The Books elsewhere.

Which then begs the question: Why the heck don’t I have a Kindle? It’s light, I can fit All The Books inside and would make things so much easier. Also, once the thing is paid for, arguably cheaper. So there’s no real cons.

But the bookshelf.

And the books.

I like writing in my books. My copy of Ulysses is covered in my scrawls. Some books only have the occasional comment or underline. The Chinese in America has a lot of notes in the margins. Sure, you can do that on a Kindle and typed notes is easier to read than my handwriting, but there’s the process. Pen on paper. Flicking through a book looking for those notes. The feel of the pages.

There’s the bookshelf too. Maybe it’s an egotistical thing where I like having a monument to All The Books I Have Read in my apartment and to make sure people visiting can see All The Books. It’s a way for me to tell any visitor that I have a diverse array of interests (why yes, that is Mark Mazzetti’s study of the CIA, The Way of The Knife, next to Ready Player One, behold for I am cultured). It means that when some friends and I are a few drinks deep and talking about 80s movies or Ulysses I can pull a book off my monument to All The Books I Have Read and point to a passage relevant to our discussions. Like I said, it’s egotistical, but it has a purpose.

But maybe that egotism has a deeper root in a declaration of identity. Books are, to an extent, more personal than, say, movies. You don’t just go read a book at random, usually. Bookshelves represent what you’re into and what you’re enjoy, what you’ve studied and what you read for pleasure. They work as a summation of your interests and are thus reflexive back on you as a person. If you’re someone with The New Bloomsday Book you take reading important books seriously, but The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy lets everyone know you know how to have fun. By curating a bookshelf, you’re displaying a facet of yourself. You don’t get that on a Kindle.

I think that’s something that we lose when we go digital. Sure, it’s a bit of a luddite’s perspective, but I like recognizing a book a stranger’s reading on the subway or having an immediate icebreaker when you recognize a book on someone’s shelf.



So will I get a Kindle? Maybe. Probably eventually. Let’s see just how much I complain about lugging these books to a new apartment.

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On the one hand, I sort of understand that. At the same time, at home I have tons of books on my bookshelf—some I liked, some I didn't, even some I got as gifts that I've never worked up the interest to actually read. One potential advantage I see in digital books is being able to cut down on some of that—reading a book digitally before committing to physical ownership, to allow shelves to function as even more of a sort of curated collection of favorites.

Speaking of "page feel", you didn't really mention this in your blog entry, but one thing I especially love is a book that feels designed. Of course, design work goes into all sorts of books, but often the formatting and style choices feel more or less interchangeable. What really appeals to me most is a book or book series where every aspect of the book, from the font choice to the binding to even the style of paper, feels like it was a deliberate decision. A Series of Unfortunate Events is a crowning example of that (to the point where I even re-bought the first three volumes in paperback when they briefly made an attempt at reformatting the paperback editions to resemble "penny dreadfuls" with new art and added serialized anthology stories). But other books engage in that as well—I'm quite impressed with what Lego and Ameet Studio have done with many of the Nexo Knights guidebooks, for instance.

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Ta-metru_defender
Apr 17 2017 01:14 PM

Omg, yeah. That's one thing that bugs me about reading all my comics digitally – I lose the original spacing for the pages. Plus there are some books with footnotes and endnotes galore that I won't wanna give up on. 

 

Also, old book smell. I bought a bunch of used books from The Strand and they smell so good.

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josh

twenty-five


grew up on a ship


studied Narrative (Re)Construction

at New York University


frequently found writing in a coffee shop, behind a camera, or mixing alcohol and video games

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