Tonight I went to hear fellow author Nerys Parry read from her novel “Man And Other Natural Disasters”. The main character of her novel is a book binder. Nerys had two special guests with her: a book restorer and a book collector. After the reading Nerys interviewed the two gentlemen about their passion for restoring and collecting books.
It got me to thinking.
Since launching my novel I have had several people ask me “So when is the e-book coming out?” I wasn’t planning on launching into the cyber world until the new year since my plate is already considerably full trying to promote and sell the hard copies I have occupying every corner of my life at present.
The e-book version of “Sex & Samosas” is inevitable but I still love and appreciate the hard copy book.
When I decided to self publish it was absolutely inconceivable to me thatI would not have a hard copy of my novel to hold in my hands. There was no way I was going to go from staring at the words I had strung together over the last five years on a computer screen, to seeing it in it’s published version…on a computer screen.
I needed to know it was real.
And the anticipation of waiting for that first copy was nerve-wracking. What if it wasn’t perfect? What if the binding was lopsided and off? What if the pages fell out in my hands the second I held it? (What new mother doesn’t think all these things right?)
But then it arrived – and it felt just like a familiar friend.
I held in my hands the product of hour upon hour of edit after edit, year after year of untold sacrifices and it was a moment as lovely as any dreamer can imagine.
I couldn’t take my eyes off it.
It was the most stunning thing I had ever seen (despite the flaws that still needed correcting).
I have to admit, I slept with it that first night.
We just CUDDLED okay?!
But everywhere I put it, I marvelled at how beautiful it looked.
It saddens me to think that the art of book making is slowly dying. That there will be an entire generation of writers who may never hold their books in their hands, their work best suited to the e-pub world of publishing.
What has become of the dying art of book restoration? Where is the appreciation for work still done by hand?
Beyond the obvious hand job jokes I could make here, looking at the old copies the collector had brought, some dating back as far as the 1600’s, I couldn’t help but wonder, just how many people have fingered those books? Who has held them? Who ran their palms over the leather spine to feel the ridges and texture? Are you thinking about sex right now? All that fingering, holding and caressing got you thinking about something other than books? It was the hand job comment, wasn’t it?
But the truth of the matter is, there is a sensuality to holding a book, to appreciating it’s curves, lines and scent. It is a natural connection between the reader and the written word that flows so effortlessly that it is completely subconscious and yet so integral to the entire experience.
Knowing an author, and the sacrifices he or she has made to create that work, especially when they are an independent writer, in my opinion, only enhances the richness of the read. You can practically feel their labour of love with every page you turn.
And it only makes you love the physical copy even more.
It’s a wonder I’m not engaged to mine.