Posted on September 12, 2011 at 4:26 am in Books | RSS feed
Seriously, do we really need instructions on how to open a new book?
I don’t know, is this how you open books? And I mean, I did have to talk to my girlfriend last night about how when I lend her a book, please don’t (i.e. we are probably breaking up if you do), bend the front cover all the way around so that it touches the back cover so you can hold it in one hand (which one can do anyways, when utilizing proper thumb and pinky strength).
Come now, Oneditorial, William Matthews, the most famous bookbinder—IN AMERICA—has shown us the moral answer to this question, I think.
In grade school in the 1960s, when we got new textbooks, the teachers would always lead us in this exercise, and with very grave expressions, warning us that if we didn’t carefully break the books in this way, the books could “break.” I had never seen a “broken” book, but it sounded so fearsome I didn’t want to. The exercise built in us a respect for books as objects that I have to this day, and it’s that respect that helps make me love books as physical objects and want them not to disappear.
I wish I had a more intelligent response than just to say “thanks” for sharing your memory about having to do this exercise…but I don’t…so thanks, Mark! I enjoyed your comment.
Sheesh, hard crowd overhere. Can’t the author post things that he finds interesting?
== A True (but Mitigative) Confession ==
Whenever I buy a brand-new book off the store shelf, I first carefully open it to peruse its content. Once I decide to buy it, I then place the perused copy back on the shelf and pick a pristine copy from the supply. I realize that this practice reeks of selfishness, but I rationalize it by whispering to myself, “At least I’m not reducing the author’s profit by buying the thing from, say, Amazon.”
And: speaking, as does our P. T. Smith, of bibliomutilation, I wonder if more women than men resort to marking their read-through place in a given book by creasing a small area of the page top into a triangle (ugh!). — Larry W. Bryant (12 Sep 11)
Larry, I treasure your comments more than pearls, more than sapphires . . . so it pains me to admit that, although I don’t do it to mark my place (I use naughty postcards for that purpose), I *do* dogear my books, almost compulsively. I used to be a heavy annotator, but I found that, because I needed to cite text for reviews, it was more helpful to have a physical signifier to find the words I wanted to quote. If a book is really great, it develops an abscess of dogears in the upper right hand corner under my neglect/scrutiny.
I understand that plight of needing to find a comment, but I’m a little surprised there’s a need for a physical marker — myself, and at least three of the bigger readers I know all have the same ability to remember where they read a line, i.e, top, bottom, or middle of a page; left or right page; and at least about where in the pagination. I find it odd that I can hardly remember names or faces, but I can spot what book someone is reading if I see a tiny bit of a cover or even back cover of a book I read ages ago.
As someone who has constructed two books (the “regular kind” with fabric and sewing and archival glue), I should have known better than to laugh at a post called “How to Open a New Book.” Maybe it’s because I had time on my hands back then, and made them by examining a book I owned and then figuring it out myself. It’s always good to learn something new. Thanks.
This maybe helpful in understanding the finer mechanics of book opening.
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