Wednesday, February 12, 2014

birth of a book.......

Came across this video - Birth of a Book - and had to share.

It seems almost a lost art. Who buys books anymore? Real live books full of words and stories. The kind you hold in your hands and fold down the page corners to mark your spot. The kind that you stack on your bookshelves and your desk and your bedside table and your floor.

The kind whose pages get brittle and musty and yellow with age - kind of like we do.

Yes, I buy them.

Not long after discovering this video I came across an article from The New Yorker by George Packer, about book (and other things) selling powerhouse Amazon (surprisingly book sales only account for seven per cent of their annual sales) and the effect that cheap online books and digital books are having on the publishing industry.

I buy a lot of my books and magazines online through The Book Depository (which is incidentally owned by Amazon) for a couple of reasons. One is access; I don't live in close proximity to traditional retailers that sell what I'm looking for, back copies of The Paris Review and Anthropology textbooks for example, and so I turn to online sellers who stock thousands of books and magazines.

Cost is also another factor. The truth is that Australian's pay more for magazines, journals and books. And while it would be lovely to not have to consider price as a factor in purchasing, the reality is that I, and many others too, do just that.

That said, there is line from Packers's piece that seems to put this all in perspective, and reinforces the emotions provoked by the video above.

'Readers are being conditioned to think that books are worth as little as a sandwich'

If you have an appreciation for books and stories and writers and the words they string together, like I do, the idea that books are worthless or close to it is disheartening at best and terrifying at worse.

I'm not going to stop buying books from The Book Depository, but I am going to start seeking out independent book stores. If only so that the books that are available to me are not selected by an algorithm, but by a real person.

And here is why.

Stories are at the centre of every culture in the world. Stories are how we communicate, share knowledge and history and news. Stories are what make us who we are. They can't be written by a computer program or collected using big data.

Stories are not worthless. And neither are books.

kb xx