If you display symptoms of being both a technology junky and reading addict, you probably, like me, have collected hundreds of books on your iPad or Kindle.
There are several reasons for this:
- Once you start browsing an online collection from the comfort of [insert wherever you feel comfortable here], it is so easy to get sucked into the oh so easy and oh so personalised suggested reads Amazon or Apple push in front of you. How well they know you!
- Not only do these online platforms remember what you like, they remember your credit card number, too. Again, you don’t even need to get up from that comfy spot to dig deep into your “tidy” bag and retrieve a means of payment. All you need to do is apply your fingertip to your fingerprint “clean” screen and voilà.
- I have a tendency to collect things, and I like to keep every single book I’ve ever read. Unfortunately, I can’t fit an entire library wing or building at home (yet). My very own Bodleian Library will have to wait (sigh). So digital copies work just fine for my current lack of space.
- You never know when you’ll suddenly crave a bit of E.M. Forster with your coffee. Just reach down for your iPad and there you have it. A Room With a View, with the smell of your favourite brew on the side.
Why am I telling you this? you might ask.
Well, as much as I love the convenience of the digital era we live in, when it comes to books, I feel like my digital reading experience is never quite complete. Hear me out.
The truth is, a book will stimulate all 5 senses.
I, weirdly perhaps, am obsessed with the smell of paper. I always have been. When you pick up a hard copy, the smell tells you a little bit about that book’s story. Remember Mr Big in Sex and the City telling Carrie “Oh, that’s an oldie!”? And yes, you can be a discerning reader AND watch Sex and the City.
Apart from the delicious paper smell, you get to look at the cover design, see the discolouration of the paper and fading text. You also get to see that coffee stain on page 329, a constant reminder of that wonderful morning coffee in bed reading that we all crave but can never quite fit into our lives anymore. Again, the book tells you a story outside the story it holds.
The quiet rustling sound of turning pages is music to my ear, and I love the feel of the book cloth under the cover.
Now that’s only four senses. But, if you ask any toddler, they’ll tell you that books taste great too. There, that’s five.
In a time when one wonders about the future of book stores, I am certain that enjoying the convenience of e-books is no contradiction to being a die hard booklover.
Thankfully, it looks like Pan Macmillan agrees with me. They are currently re-printing great literary classics in their Collector’s Library, in order to “restore the visual and tactile pleasures to the joy of reading”. Their idea is to produce a truly beautiful object, at an affordable price, which enables readers to build their very own classic library. The books feature gold leaf edged pages, a ribbon marker, are hand stitched and bound in real cloth (that speaks to us here at GRAPHiCA!). They will be launching twenty six titles starting today and publish around 100 titles in the next six months. In every case the type is re-set, illustrations are selected from sources as close to the period of the book as possible, printed on high-quality paper.
In the words of Anthony Forbes Watson, Pan Macmillan MD: “As readers fall back into love with print, what could feel more right for the market than a beautiful, affordable, pocketable, probably indestructible and endlessly readable collection for anyone and everyone?” Well, Mr Watson, You had me at hello.
So next time you’re stuck for a gift, remember that a beautiful classic piece of literature never goes out of style.
Ps: if you want to find out more, Harriet Sanders, Publisher of the Macmillan Collector’s Library, was chatting to Tamara Lepine Williams on Classic FM a few weeks back. You can catch the podcast here.