But…they’re so pretty

All anyone seems to want to talk about these days is the future of publishing and whether or not books are a dying medium for literature. While it’s obviously true that electronic versions of books are becoming more prevalent and, in a lot of cases, more practical (especially for reading manuscripts!), it’s hard to believe that people will forgo books altogether. Especially when amassed collections can look so beautiful. There’s a reason that photo collections like this one exist—the appeal of rows and rows and stacks and stacks of books is undeniable.

The other day, a friend led me to an article on Flavorwire that showed the libraries of celebrities. I know the first thing I do when I’m in a friend’s home is examine their bookshelf. Not in a judge-y way (I promise!), but because I’m automatically drawn towards them and intrigued. I’m sure the same is true for so many people. Even non-readers or ambivalent ones will join in an exclamation of delight when someone mentions the library in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. It’s a cartoon! It’s a cartoon, but I would go as far as to say that it’s one of the most memorable background scenes in Disney’s oeuvre. I’ve had discussions with more people than I can recall (Lauren even blogged about them back in May) about how the ultimate real estate dream would be to have a library “like the one in Beauty and the Beast.

Maybe it’s just the rolling ladder, I don’t know.

Okay, it’s not, but it is an added bonus.

In any case, no matter how easy and cheap it becomes to download books onto an e-reader – and I’m in no way discounting their merits – it’s hard to believe that the aesthetic beauty of the book will ever be forgotten or remiss.

6 Responses to But…they’re so pretty

  1. I, too, think a library of books is beautiful. But think about the kids who are born today — the ones who will likely never hold a bound textbook, the ones who will be downloading most of their books to their phones or e-readers, the ones who may not every do research for a paper in an actual library.

    Now think about their children. If their parents don’t learn the same appreciation for libraries, how will that love be passed on? They’ll find printed books to be quaint, but irritating because they take up space and are never where they want them when they need them. And don’t even get me started on having to pack and move the darn things.

    Our love of libraries of printed books is based in our emotional attachment to what those rows of books mean, the hours of pleasure they promise us, the joy of discovery as we look through someone’s collection. Those who come after will have those same experiences by borrowing someone’s reader, by browsing the unlimited selections in online bookstores. Printed books just won’t hold the same connotations.

  2. Cheryl says:

    I have to agree. Libraries are beautiful and I would love, love, love to have one. With a rolling ladder. Or two. No, my dream library would *definitely* require at least two because it’s just that big. Since we’re dreaming, and all.

  3. Melissa- I hear you, but isn’t that like saying people who’ve never owned a real painting are just as satisfied with a poster? For some, yes of course… a poster may be enough. For many, the texture of paint, the way light hits a canvas is something that cannot be replaced by the flat image in a reproduction.
    Real paintings may not be common, but that doesn’t mean they are no longer appreciated.
    Maybe it’s just wishful thinking, but I think the emotional connection with a physical book will always be pleasurable to people who love reading.

  4. I can’t agree more. Real books are lovely is so many ways: the way they look, feel, even smell. You can never get that with an e-reader, only convenience. I wrote a blog post (12/6) last month about why I will always prefer a real book over an e-book. I’ve spent large amounts of money on custom-built library shelves to house my large collection and I always sneak a look at what my friends have on theirs. I could’t imagine carting an e-reader to all the places I bring my book. I love tech gadgets as much as the next person, but I will never give up on the real thing. And while I hope when my book is published that it will also be available on an e-reader, I can’t wait to hold the real thing in my hand for the first time and marvel at its beauty.

  5. Heather Bitzer says:

    When I hear laughter from our front room, I know someone has walked over to our book shelves where The Secret Garden lives right next to The Dirt, the autobiography of Motley Crue! I just love what a display of books can do for conversation.

  6. Lynn says:

    I think Katharine gave a great analogy of why books will be around for a lot longer than most people think. It’s having that book in your hand that many of us appreciate. Besides, I love just sitting and looking at my books on the bookshelves. (By the way, I’m the one who won Lauren’s contest back in May! I still haven’t replaced my stepping stool for a rolling ladder, but hopefully one day I will!)

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