Wednesday, July 22, 2009

A dirty book is rarely dusty...

The subject line is not attributed to anyone--and, maybe, with good reason for it doesn't make a lot of sense. But what is a book? That is the very serious question publishers, authors, agents and booksellers are currently asking ourselves.

Is a book an idea? Is it pages? Or plot? Or is it a legally licensed entity? Can one own a book like one owns a single title of music? There is no one answer to these questions. And even the real answers get tricky. When a hard-drive crashed on one of my computers I tried to re-create my musical "library." I was told that out of 1,317 digital files there were 31 that could not be obtained. So I had purchased a piece of art that was, for worse not better, temporary.

I don't mean to bash Amazon, ITunes, Kindle, Sony Reader or any of the other electronic arts devices. I try very hard to carve a fine line between what we do and the chains, big boxes and internet sellers do. They do bulk and discount much like  Target does. We do hand-selection. Both are fine.

But there are distinctions. Once you buy "1984" by George Orwell, for example, from us you can do whatever you want with it. Cut a certain passage out of it for a collage. Try to re-create the cover in a watercolor. Cross out lines you hate. It is yours.

Now, it seems, the folks at Amazon can edit your reading/listening tastes even after you have bought them. I don't need to go into detail about this--check out any number of newspapers for a recount of this very real, and scary, scenario.

We sell books. We sell words and pages and comma's(edit) and physical objects. What you do with them, once sold, is entirely your business. Cut them up. Annotate them. Read them. Love or hate them. Read them. Read them. And keep them, forever.

1 comment:

  1. Excellent blog ... I love reading and collecting books and I love sudden memory loss , thanks for your very interesting publications.