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V14 2011 INDEX       E-SYLUM ARCHIVE

The E-Sylum: Volume 14, Number 27, July 3, 2011, Article 17

THE WEIRD WAYS OF READERS AND BIBLIOPHILES

Bill Eckberg forwarded this item from the Washington Post online. Thanks! -Editor

Which brings to mind one of the major crotchets of my later years: An obsession with editions. I figure that if Iím going to spend any more of my too few remaining years in reading, I want the most enjoyable experience possible. So I eschew paperbacks almost entirely (except for the proofs that I often have to read when Iím reviewing), and, before I buy, I look hard at the physical design of the book, the quality of the type and the paper, the entire feel of the volume as it opens in my hand.

For the most part, I particularly gravitate to books published between roughly 1890 and 1940. They feel like real books. Theyíve got heft, substance, especially those published by certain British companies.. Todayís hardbacks--both British and American-- feel shoddy and gimcrack by comparsion: The bindings are cheap cardboard, the paper often this lifeless droopy stuff. The books all look terrible without their dustjackets and gaudy with them. By contrast, those older books were solid, meant to last, real books.

As for reading on screens--donít get me started. Can you really read anything serious and read it seriously if it comes on a screen? Screens are, by their nature, ephemeral, transient, insubstantial. Permanence is alien to their essence. One can, I suppose, whip through airplane novels and beach books on handheld devices , but why would you not rather have handsome editions of the classics and the books that mean something to you?

Oh, the weird ways of readers and bibliophiles!

To read the complete article, see: Editions and Reading Formats (www.washingtonpost.com/conversations/editions-and-reading-formats
/2011/06/24/AG3UAIjH_discussion.html)

Wayne Homren, Editor

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