Here’s a scary cartoon I saw in Parade magazine — at least it’s scary to me: A dad is sitting in a chair and his son is standing in front of him holding a book and the dad says: “it’s a real book. You have to manually turn the pages.”
Whoa! are we really getting close to the point where kids won’t recognize a simple, honest-to-goodness book when they see one? I hope not! While this cartoon gave me pause, right after seeing it I read a story about artisanal chocolate makers who are betting that handmade sweets are about to explode in popularity, along with niche beers and gourmet cheeses. In short, they believe that making small batches of chocolate with the freshest of ingredients without industrial machinery is a viable option in a world where “bigger is better” seems to be the prevailing mantra.
Mmmm….my laid-back, weekend brain began thinking about all this and wondering if at some point, beautifully hand-crafted books might someday soon spark the same demand as high-end chocolates. It’s not as wacky as it sounds. some publishers already put out special de luxe editions of popular titles and I read recently that hard-copy sales of J.K. Rowling’s new book, A Casual Vacancy, are outselling e-book versions because people believe that the hardcover version will one day be a collector’s item. Who knows if this is true, but it sounds plausible.
Handmade chocolates. Books that you actually hold in your hands with pages that you actually turn. Are these going to become rare, luxury items? Are kids no longer going to carry around dog-eared copies of their favorite stories spattered with sweat and longing?
Just recently, I borrowed from the library a copy of Flush, A Biography by Virginia Woolf, a story told from the point of view of Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s dog. what a charming and inventive tale! The book was published by Hogarth Press, which Virginia and her husband Leonard actually owned and ran, often setting type themselves. The book is old. Its pages are brown and speckled; They have a rough, creamy texture. Turning them is sensually pleasing, both to the eye and the touch.
Artisanal chocolates and beautifully crafted books. Maybe there’s a trend afoot. What do you think? Are ordinary bound books an endangered species? Write on!