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Books as Art

The outrage surrounding MTV reality starlet and YA author Lauren Conrad’s destroying some of Lemony Snicket’s books on her DIY craft show to make them into storage containers has reignited the debate over books being used as non-reading materials. Rebecca Joines Schinsky of Book Riot posted about this and makes some really great points worth considering if you find yourself appalled by Conrad’s actions. For one, Schinsky notes that people love books for the stories, not the medium in which they’re delivered—most evident nowadays in the success of digital publishing. On top of that, she quotes Rachel Fershleiser—author, former bookseller and publicist, who has the publishing experience and no-nonsense attitude required to set the record straight—that books that don’t sell are often recycled. So, why shouldn’t creative people use them as they see fit?

Now, there are a couple of things that certainly don’t help Conrad’s case. The books she destroyed were Lemony Snicket’s. Lemony Snicket, people. The girl writes YA and doesn’t appreciate a modern classic children’s author? And storage containers? Really? Not the most original or useful endeavor. If, however, you don’t see the problem with that, check out The Repurposed Library by Lisa Occhipinti or Playing with Books by Jason Thompson for some truly great ideas.

And if you’re as fascinated by a celebrity feud as I am, take a look at Lemony Snicket’s amusing response here.

3 Responses to Books as Art

  1. Simone says:

    Oh, now I feel bad for liking these:

    http://www.facebook.com/ReaDoBooks

  2. Lemony Snicket’s response was great.

    That said, I feel the uproar is over-the-top. Perhaps it’s just because all my experience in the library world has numbed me to the horror of destroying books; that’s what happens when we can’t sell them or send them to storage. And I know that books that don’t get sold in stores get pulped. Books are destroyed all the time. I can’t see ALL of them as untouchable, holy objects. (Unless they are holy books. Anyone’s holy books. Destroying those would go too far. And it’d be senseless to destroy something old and rare.)

    That said, I think it’s a little silly to buy brand new books and destroy them for such a trivial project. You can buy boxes that look like books; I have three of them. And if you wanted particular book spines, you could replicate the look pretty easily for much cheaper. But beyond that, I can’t really criticize, especially since they’re new books that are still in print. When I got my Kindle, I scoured used book shops for one I could turn into a case, which would have involved cutting a hole through all the pages. Ultimately, the only reason I didn’t do it was because I ended up wanting to read every book I came across and needed to make the case fast! So I bought a journal that looks like a book instead.

  3. D. C. DaCosta says:

    That’s definitely one of the more idiotic “DIY projects” I’ve ever seen.
    If all she wanted was the spines, why didn’t she scan them, print them, glue them over half-round dowels, and glue them onto the box? Besides, the cover art on those books is so good that I’m wondering why she didn’t use that, instead.
    As for the question of destroying books in general…let’s be honest. More than 90% of what’s published is not a significant contribution to the world’s knowledge or entertainment. Books per se have no value — it’s what they teach us that matters.

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