My book art gallery

I was browsing in a bookshop on Saturday which of course can have me lost for hours. People have been known to send out search parties for me or to send in survival packs of food and water. But it struck me how much my book buying habits have changed since I bought my Kindle. I have a library full of books in my house and those are just the ones that I could fit into my office. Books spill out of every drawer and on top every table in my house. I bought an extra bedside table just so that I could have one bedside table for my books that I am currently reading and another bedside table for bedroom things. There is not a place in my house where you will not find a pile of books.

On top of always being a book buyer I also have that most old-fashioned of things: a well used library card. So there is also a special place designated in each room just for the library books so that they don’t get confused with my own books. I love borrowing books from the library. There is something about the smell of the pages as I open the covers that is like an aphrodisiac to my senses. I love imagining who has read the book I am reading. Reading a library book is like a reading two stories: there is the story in the book and then there is the story of the book’s travels and whose hearts and minds it touched.

When the Kindle first came out I was determined that I was not going to get one. I could see the advantage of less packing space for books when traveling but I could not imagine curling up with an electronic device. But eventually I succumbed and bought a Kindle. I bought it mainly because I was doing a lot of traveling in my job and also as a confirmed travel-junkie I thought it would be an intelligent purchase.

I used it very sparingly in the beginning as my mind had to get used to reading on this device. But it did not take long and I was addicted. Now my Kindle has pride of place alongside my books on my bedside table. But owning this Kindle has changed my book buying habits. Before the Kindle I spent a lot of money on all books of all genres and styles, whether fiction or non-fiction. (Um…you did get the fact that I am book junkie from the beginning of this post, didn’t you?) But after the Kindle I am still buying books but the type of books I am buying on the Kindle and the type of books I am buying from bookshops has changed.

Now I am turning my library and bookshelves into my own personal art gallery. I am buying beautifully illustrated hardcover books. I am perusing second-hand book shops and hunting out leather-bound early editions. I am searching out books by my favourite authors and building collections of their published works. I am buying more art books and “coffee table” books. This is all thanks to my Kindle.

For the Kindle naysayers (I was one of them not too long ago) the Kindle has not stopped my book buying. The Kindle has refined and cultivated my book buying to book art now. I am hunting out expensive one of a kind editions and buying the more expensive hardcover books now. Before the Kindle I bought indiscriminately like a junkie would. Now I consider myself a connoisseur.

The books that are turning up on my book shelf now are no less artworks than a framed Picasso or Monet. But unlike those artworks, these artworks of mine are interactive and invite perusal. You have to pick them up and open the covers to appreciate them even further. The indiscriminate book buying is still there but it is now reserved for Kindle purchases. But those books that I can read over and over again and the ones I love looking at are still bought for my bookshelf. My personal library has now become my own art gallery. But in this art gallery you must touch the art, feel the art and explore the art.

Owning a Kindle or other ebook reading device does not need to mean you have to choose between ebooks and books. Instead buy a Kindle to refine your book buying tastes. Become a book connoisseur. Build up a treasure trove of limited editions and beautifully illustrated hardcover books. Buy illustrated leather-bound books. Turn your library into a book art gallery. You can have the best of both worlds when you own a Kindle. Owning a Kindle does not mean the death of printed and bound books. Now your books can become collectors items.

How has your book buying changed with the advent of ebooks?

All images (except the Kindle image) are borrowed courtesy of Fuck Yeah, Book Arts on tumblr…Do yourself a favour and visit this site for beautiful and unusual posts on Book Arts. 

Books…read them, write them, love them

Carol reading babys first book
Image via Wikipedia

My nickname as a child was Book-Worm. Now before you say it, it was not because I was wormlike. It was because I started a grand love affair with books when I was a toddler. The love affair still continues to this day. I grew up with a Disney annual broken up into the four seasons. Each night had a different story that my parents read to me. Soon though being read to was not enough. I wanted to lose myself in the words of the story, I wanted to wander through the pages of this fantastic world of imagination. Books were magical. I could start reading a story and soon I was lost in the paths that a writer had created. Books became my treasures, my adventures, my friends and my portals into different worlds and different times.

Before long, I was making up my own stories and telling them to my baby brother. I realised with that how powerful story-telling was. I also realised how much more powerful stories were when written down. My childhood crush with stories and books had grown into a love story.

I have always said that the worst punishment for me would be to take away my books, my pens and my paper. Some people live life through songs, others live life through activities. For me, words are a method of living. I have used books to learn and research. I have used books to escape from reality for a short moment in time.

In this digital world where so much time is spent immersed in technology or on the internet, books remain the one constant that ties the generations together. I love technology as much as the next person. Typing this post on a Macbook to post in a WordPress blog is a case in point. But sometimes I just need a detox from technology, as wonderful as it can be. Technology can also be draining. There are some times when I have been on the computer for large amounts of time and my eyes are burning with strain and fatigue. There are also times when I don’t want music playing or have flickering images from a television in my view. I have to switch off and walk away. I just want to relax. I want to take a breather…

Often I can go for a walk and the fresh air refreshes me. But the habit I turn to most often when I need a break is opening a book. There is something about opening a book and reading the first sentence in the first chapter that immediately releases all my tension and I find myself again. I become filled with wonder as much as I did when I was a child.

Lately there has been a lot of chatter online about books vs ebooks and which industry is going to ultimately win. The sad thing for me about this debate is that this has become a competition for survival on the books side of the debate. Today I read that someone said that books were dying and I actually caught my breath at that. I closed my eyes and tried to imagine a world without books and it horrified me.

I understand the convenience of ebooks but fail to see how this can be the death knell of paper-bound books. Suddenly I started getting quite a territorial feeling running through me. If ebooks mean the kiss of death for me being able to open a book and disappear into its pages then I have to take a stance.

But no; ebooks are not the kiss of death for books. E-books are convenient, cheap and relatively easy to obtain. As I am writing this I am waiting for my Kindle to arrive. But does my getting a Kindle mean that I am never going to buy a book again nor borrow books from the local library. No. I am getting a Kindle purely for the convenience when I am travelling. It would make my hand luggage much lighter. I always carry at least 3 books with me where ever I go.

I love libraries and book stores. Yes I still go to the Library as old-fashioned as that idea may seem. There is something about reading a book where the pages have been softened and worn by numerous fingers turning them. Then there is the smell. You know that smell – the well read book smell. There is no smell like it. I also love book shops. I don’t like shopping as a rule. But browsing in a book shop I can easily lose all sense of time and before I know it 3 hours has already passed. Bookshops and libraries are another way why the Kindle nor ebooks will become my primary form of reading material. There is no book shelf in Amazon. There is no tucked away armchair in the corner where you can get a preview of the book.

Another reason why e-books will not be my primary reading source is that books don’t need power points not rechargers. I can take my books with me anywhere and read. I have taken them on hiking and camping trips. Books are physical. You can hold them in your hands. You can feel the weight of the story in your hands. I don’t know about you, but I am a five senses type of gal, sometimes six senses. I need to touch something to know it is real. Books are a physical portal into new worlds of wonder and magic for me.

So yes, you may relegate books to the “old-fashioned” side of “trendy”. But then you better call me old-fashioned too. As long as there are readers there will be books. I believe I am not the only person, reader or writer, that will say that if books are dying then the world is going to become worse for wear. I can’t see parents teaching their children to read off a screen. Do you remember the first books your parents taught you to read from? One of my first was Mo the Monkey and El the Elephant.

So bring on e-books and kindles and the advance of technology. But don’t forget your first love of ink on paper just because some people are calling them “old-fashioned” or a dying industry. Go to your local book store and just spend an hour browsing through all the books. Take a seat in that corner and page through a few of your favourites. Go to your local library and take out a book. The best things in life are those that are sometimes relegated to “old-fashioned”. Don’t be scared to be called old-fashioned because you love books. Don’t be made to feel ashamed because you carry a bag full of books around. Cherish books. They have stayed faithful to you through all your growing pains. Stay faithful to books. Wear the title “Book Worm” with pride. I know I do. You can call me Book-Worm. Now I am going to tuck into the book I am reading…

© All Rights Reserved Kim Koning