Sunday, 23 August 2015

What does a book mean to you?

Forget kindle. I mean, don't forget it, but for now, put it out of your mind.

Real books happen on paper, with hard covers, preferably leather-bound. They have ragged edges and, often, a musty smell to them. They occupy library shelves, but not just in any old library. Oh no. They live in big old libraries that have tall shelves and windows with slanting light where dust dances in the rarified air. In a library such as this you will be treated to a magical thing. You will come across buried treasure. You will be transported to other worlds. Sometimes, it happens under the covers at night with a torch in one hand and a book in the other. Sometimes you can be on the noisiest of trains and yet, remarkably, you are lost in another time. Do tablet readers do that? Do they really give you that feeling that you've come across something very special? I don't think so, and yet, we are stuck with them now. Woe betide the demise of the real book.

Today I found the London Bookbinding company and I thought, wow, I wish I could do bookbinding. I wish I could leave this internet fiction of a world behind and get real again. I wish traditional publishing wasn't such a closed shop and we were living in earlier times, where books were physical entities that felt solid in our hands and engendered a sense of wonder.

Of course, you can take courses in bookbinding and there are quite a few companies in London, where I live, that will teach you this old art. Trouble is, it all costs a lot of money. How wonderful though, to have a real live leather-bound book that you've written in your hands. Wouldn't that be worth all the hard work? Wouldn't people want to buy a real solid, fantastic book like this? Of course, it would have to have a fabulous story inside it, and impeccable editing. You cannot splurge out on creating something like this and not have a brilliant story to tell.

Crowdfunding anyone?

Angela Elliott's 18th century tale of Kitty Ives, Covent Garden whore and crime fighter is out now. Sadly, from Amazon etc...

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