Thursday, 25 August 2016

Get Bendy

A poor abused book, trying to flap away to freedom. Image by jarmoluk via Pixabay.

"Get bendy," he says.
"No, I'm not talking about yoga," he adds.

I love the physicality of a printed book. It has strengths (texture, presence) that can't be replicated digitally. E-books have three features that ameliorate this for me: you can read them in the dark (and not wake your bed partner); you can tap a word to get an instant dictionary definition; and you can fit 50 books into your pocket.

The other day I was asked whether I use a bookmark to keep my place in a printed book or if I fold down the corner of the page.

WHAAAAATT!!! I could never fold a page! I am an ex-librarian! I’d argue that there is always something to mark a page with if a bookmark isn't nearby. A scrap of paper. A hairclip. A sock. A drinks coaster. Another book inserted lightly at the edge. A lock of hair from a virgin princess. A bus ticket. We live in a world of things, and they can be repurposed!

It was pointed out that if they own the book they can do what they want with it and I shouldn’t be imposing my rules on someone else.

I don’t think I was doing that. Obviously, each book owner can do as they wish. If I want to smother my book in chocolate spread it is my prerogative. But I'd need to have a good reason to do that. Likewise if I enjoyed folding the pages or writing in the book - great, let me do it. It's just that, for me, "lack of something to use as a bookmark" has never occurred in 40+ years, so it doesn’t seem like a good reason to fold a page. The only reason to fold a page is because I like folding pages (in which case I should take up origami).

Then again, I am someone who plans ahead a lot. I cut the front of nice cards into strips and leave small piles on shelves. Even guests can partake of my bookmarky beneficence.

Which makes me think - with the print copies of my work, am I more horrified by a fate of notes, scribbles, creasings and tearings; or by the sadness of a pristine almost-unread state destined for a charity shop? It's the kind of conundrum that I often ponder. Two types of horror.

So, you. You there in the corner, in the spotlight, looking guilty with a paperback. Bookmarks or bent-over corners? Or resting a book open flat so that the spine splits? Would you write in a book? Am I overly fussy about this? Over to you.

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