Sunday, February 18, 2007

Book Making

In this day of eBooks and Audio Books many have argued that the book of paper and covers will eventually disappear. This was predicted with the advent of the computer. But I have noticed that books have continued to multiply and pile up on tables, forests continue to be decimated, and book emporiums like Borders and Barnes and Noble, to name just two, have evolved into friendly environments compatible with the Web 2.0 philosophy of sharing, and you can sit leisurely browsing for hours over a cup of coffee while also scouring the "interverse" with your laptop.

Once, long ago, in a dimension now confined to memory, I was taught by a shop teacher how make a book. It was a technical process, one of choosing cover material, paper, sewing the paper in sections and connecting them to the spine. All books have a spine, and a gutter, which secures the paper to the cover. Sewing and gluing are the principal techniques in creating a book. Book Makers are often called Binderies, and most libraries either operate a bindery or secure the services of a bindery. Manuscripts of dissertations are transformed into books, and books destroyed by the age of Time are reborn in the bindery.

In shop, we learned to make a hardcover or case binding, the classic cover that preserves books and gives them long lives no matter how often you flip through their pages. That is the true appeal of the bound book of paper: it is flippable and provides random and immediate access to any page or line in the book. There is also something durable about a book; it is picturesque, a great home decorating tool that also lets your visitors know who you are by what you read (or usually what you hope to read sometime when you can get around to it!). My first book was of blank pages, a diary, if you will. Then, inspired by This Is My Beloved, I bound a book of my poems for a distant, clandestined beloved.

Father had a severe love affair with books. In fact he built a little house in the backyard that was just for books. He loved to buy up books of estates, series of books, especially histories, for history was one of his passions. He would disappear in the evening back to his little house where he lay on a bed surrounded by books, devouring them like a starving man feeding a voracious appetite. He was really a man for today, for a Barnes and Noble with its piles of books and easy chairs where one could while away the afternoon or evening with tea or coffee, and legions of books. The likes of him and those who follow populating these book spas are the real book makers... books made for those who discover worlds waiting in words.

In my new-found love of fiction, I relish reading in the environment created by these new book sellers. A certain spirit of the printed word, a reverence that borders on religiosity pervades the space. In the silence there are many readers, and the energy of so many converting words to consciousness is exhilarating. It is quiet, but there are inner detonations of imagination transforming silence into a vivid universe of unfolding experiences. It is more exciting than going to the movies, and the price of admission is your imagination.

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