Sunday, November 11, 2012

Beautiful Beloved Books

Are you an ebook addict? 
I can safely say I am. 
I'm on hiatus at the moment, but the minute it ends I have a list of desperately desired books. I could go to the library. True. But the newly released books (cruelly a big shiny pile of them released this month at the very same time as NaNoWriMo - the universe conspires against me) will have a zillion holds on them even if they do have a copy. And we don't really have the space to keep our own copies yet.
But I've been reading a lot of things about ebooks recently, and pondering as I desperately click 'buy now' in the wee hours of the morning.
And despite my love of the tactile book, of the scent of books, of the look and feel of old book, and the comfort of having them around, I still love ebooks. 
And I still think that however much I and my ilk enjoy ebooks, actual -hold-in-your-hand books will always be around. 
People will always want beautiful, funny, funky, gripping paper books for kids. (Or books they weakly claim are for kids. I was buying books 'for my kids' ten years before I had any...) Kids need books around the house, ones they can just pick up and browse through, look at the pictures, make up stories. While I groan when I see the kids use my books to make towers or dens, I also tell myself that easy familiarity is a good thing.  Homes have books in them. 
And as ebooks become more common I think we'll begin to see paper books become more beautiful again. The books we buy in paper form will be works of art, true keepers to pass on for generations. 
I feel so lucky to be the recipient of books my mum, my gran, my great aunts read as children. Beautiful books, carefully crafted. And there are books being created today that are also works of art. And I suspect we'll see more of them, both for adults and children. 
Isobel Carmody's Little Fur series, with its wonderfully tactile cover and whimsical illustrations, Scott Westerfelds Leviathan trilogy with its fascinating illustrations spring to mind.
I was looking at some of my beloved books last night (the ones the kids can't build towers with and are kept - hopefully - out of reach) and came across a copy of Cinderella that one of my Great Aunts won at school, way back in 1921. As I'm in the process of retelling a fairytale at present, I took it off the shelf to have a look at the penultimate fairytale (although not a favourite) and was once again enchanted. As I'm hopeful that, being so old, it's out of copyright I'll share some of the images here. We've kept this book for nearly a hundred years. I'm hoping my kids and their kids and their kids will also keep it, as well as all the ones that I collect and they collect.
Because as much as I love ebooks, books make magic, and paper books make a home.


  1. Love the images! I have put the Kindle app on my tablet and have tried very hard but just can't get into ebooks, I like the real thing! It is a wonderful thought that maybe as ebooks get more common "real" books will become more beautiful and precious, though. A lovely (librarian) friend sent my daughter a beautiful bound copy of Perrault's Fairy Tales illiustrated by Edmund Dulac and published by The Folio Society recently. It is just gorgeous, and will be kept and treasured forever. I love books :)

  2. Such a lovely gift from your friend - a true keepsake.
    Dulac's illustrations are stunning! I always find it interesting that in Perrault's version of Cinderella she forgives her step-sisters and takes them to court with her when she marries - whereas in most versions there is no forgiveness! I love the books the Folio Society publishes, I've had my eye on Andrew Lang's Fairy Books for a long time now... day very soon...
    Maybe ebooks are an acquired taste? - I'm grateful to them as I'm afraid without them I'd have books lining all the walls and stacked in piles on all the floors - instead I can contain most of my books in one little device! But they definitely aren't as friendly as paper books.