Monday, November 30, 2009

All I Want For Christmas...

Yes, a Christmas blog, well, more of a blog about what I'm hoping to get for Christmas.  There are, of course, the large list of specific books I want.  Most of them of the collectible variety, though not to terribly expensive.  For those that don't know I focus my collectible book collection to two areas:  books about books, which include both non-fiction and fiction books, and books dealing with a post-apocalyptic themes.  I've been having a reoccurring dream lately that I got the first edition of of Shelley's The Last Man for Christmas.  Fat chance of that happening, but I can dream can't I?

By and far the most important thing I want to get for Christmas is, well, two things really (if you don't count books... which really makes it three things... I better stop now).  One is a nice bottle of LBV or Vintage Port to enjoy with a good book.  The other is another book case.  More than one would not be unwelcome.  In fact, there is still room in my bedroom for at least another... 4 book cases I should think.  We've pretty much run out of shelf space now and I don't even have half my books with me!  I'd love to get a large wall book case, but that would not be the easiest thing to move into and/or around the apartment.  Still, maybe I'll get that with the Shelley.

OK, that concludes my rambling for today.  You all may go back to reading or whatever it was you where doing.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The Great Book Debate: The Death of Paper Books?

There has been much talk about e-readers and the 'death' of books for quite a while. With the release of B&N's Nook it seemed to take a fevered pitch, at least for now. I'm sure that this blog will not be the first, nor the last, to offer up an opinion on this subject. I just want to throw my two cents, for whatever it's worth, into the fray. Now, on to the show!


There are some good things about e-books. Things that trump traditional books in a way that can never be duplicated. One of the biggest perks for e-books is the amount of books one can have on hand at any one time. The thought of having thousands of books to browse through is a compelling one. It was not that long ago when most people had, at most, only a small handful of books to their names. Even now, few outside of collectors and bibliophiles has more than a bookcase of books.
The functionality of e-readers can also be a big plus in certain cases. To be able to search text is a big plus for text books, non-fiction, and magazines. I can see schools switching their text books to ebooks, which would save on costs and virtually eliminate out of date text books. Anyone doing research would also be greatly helped with a search function on their books or research material.


A big hinderance to e-books is the fact that they can't hope to simulate traditional books. Paper books are warm and inviting. They have a smell to them that I for one enjoy. The texture of the paper is as pleasing as the sound of the pages being turned. These are things that can't be duplicated in an e-reader. Another major problem is a consumers vs. publisher kind highlighted by the recent Amazon debacle. One has to wonder this: if ebooks to take over traditional books, will they follow the same copyright BS as movies, music, and software? Will you stop paying for ownership of a book and merely pay for the 'privilege' of being able to read the book, but only at the publisher's whim? I, unfortunately, think that will be the case, and that problem alone should be enough for people to for go making ebooks their primary source of reading material.
So now the big question, who will prevail? I honestly think that ebooks will find a nitch in schools and research settings, as well as the few people that happen to buy them. I don't think that they will take over the traditional book and there are a couple of reasons why I think that. First and for most is that the majority of book buyers are older, a group of people that don't like and have a hard time with new technology. I get the feeling that the e-reader producers are trying to market to the wrong crowd. A large portion of the book buying population are also collectors. How are e-books going to be collectible? I'll even go so far as the 'hardcore' book buying population are also fans of printed books over ebooks anyway, which will severally hinder the amount of ebooks sold (not to mention that there are some great sources for FREE ebooks like Project Gutenberg, which will destroy publisher's bottom line, among other things like the big three's predatory pricing (which is something for another post).  Another problem is the fact that there are no set standards for e-readers. A few, like the Kindle, are DRM protected which means they will only play books that have been bought off of or has been converted.. Others are much more open in the formats that they play, but with all the different formats out there, it's hard to include them all. Until there is some standard format, which will come as the RIAA and their ilk try to bring book publishers into their fold, it'll be hard for ebooks to take off since people are not going to want to spend money on readers that may or may not work in the future.
With all that said, the only thing I or anyone else can do is wait and see. I for one am pulling for traditional books and am actively pestering my family and friends about it.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Love and Hate for the Public Library

The library, a bitter sweet institution of acquired knowledge and learning. Dedicated to preserving the accumulated writings of the world. In so doing so, though, it has also taken actions against books that make any true bibliophile cry in horrid despair. In an attempt to provide free books to read to the masses, they have taken to rather destructive practices. At cross purposes within itself, the library is an unpalatable gruel of life sustenance that I frolic in with overabundant joy. It's a curse.

The experience of a library is meant to be enjoyed and savored like a fine meal or wine. One must allow ample time to browser and select books with care. Rashness or hurried browsing more often than not leads to making a bad selection. The library opens doors and windows of possibilities that may not usually be explored. Every avenue of literary delight should be rooted out and devoured with happy abandon. Libraries offers the hope of mankind. If more people would stop for a few moments to read a book, there would be a lot more understanding in the world... and a lot less stupidity.

In the libraries unwavering stampede towards complete and total access of all books to everyone, they have also set about to destroy the very things that libraries were originally set up to protect. Don't get me wrong, everyone should have access to books. There just has to be a better way to go about it while protecting the books. It use to be that books where chained to the shelves with just enough slack to take to a nearby table.   There are still plenty of libraries who's books are not open to circulation. For sure every library has those few reference books that can not be taken out or, if the library is lucky enough, a collection of rare books, but I'm talking about libraries that do not let any of their books out. The Grolier Club is a great example. Perhaps I should look into a better way and do a blog about it in the future.

For many people the library is their only source of books and is an indispensable resource when it comes to research. The shear number of books written is staggering and it is impossible for one to get all the books. When those people that collect only certain topics will have a hard time getting everything. What will be interesting to see is what happens to the library with the coming ebook craze. How will they adapt and change? While the slip slowly into obscurity, relegated to preservation only with access to their books only available to academia? I hope not.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Intro to Printing

So, I've been interested in letterpress printing lately.  With that in mind I borrowed a book called 'Printing for Pleasure' by John Ryder.  It was a good beginning book and it makes me wish I had the money to go out and get a press.  I'll have to go find some more books on the subject or better yet, a job/apprenticeship at a bookbindery/letterpress printer.  I really want a change in careers.

My girlfriend is quite the writer and it would be fun to have our own little private press.  She's into the graphic arts thing so I think it would be something fun for her too.  My main interest is in book binding.  Maybe in the future a little side buisness could be set up, if not it'll still be fun :)

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Book Collecting and Me

Many people have asked me why I collect books. My usual response is a shrug followed by the phrase, 'why not?' How do I explain to people my love, my passion for books? To people who's treatment of books consists of reading a book then tossing into some old box that sits in a dust corner of a garage, attic, or basement, only to be sold at some yard sale for five cents. Only fellow bibliophiles can truly understand the relationship that I have with books. Calling myself a bibliophile is perhaps being a bit... conservative. I'm sure that a case could be argued for calling me a bibliomaniac, a distinction that I am sure to live happily with. There are a few people that are close to me that have some inkling. Books, for me, are not merely part of my life, they ARE my life.

Books have a certain beauty about them too. I know even those that don't care for books much can't deny the beauty of a large private library filled with old leather bound books. There is a primal pull towards books. It could just be the information contained in them, but I don't think so. You can get those e-readers now a days, but most people that have them will tell you that they don't compare to the feel of a real book. A book is warm and lively. The even seem to exhibit a personality of their own. Even the smell of books can be quite intoxicating.

Many collectors and avid readers claim that their obsession start back in their younger years. Most point to some children's book. The start of my love affair with books didn't start that early. That's not to say that I didn't learn to read till later. I could read, very well, and I could understand what it was I was reading. I just despised reading. I hated having to read for school. It wasn't until my freshman year of high school that that all changed. I was introduced to fantasy novels by a friend. After that first book it was all down hill from there. I was soon checking books out of the library or borrowing them from my friends, spending most of my time reading, to the point if ignoring homework. For the first few years I mainly just read fantasy novels with the few books I had to read for school. After a while I started to read some non-fiction books as well. In the years since I have collected many many books. I have bought a lot of them. Some were given to me either as gifts or just because someone want to clean out their attic.

The idea of a personal library, for me, is a no brainer. Of course someday I'm hoping for a nice room that I can call my own and set it up to be a library with the over stuffed chairs, fireplace, and lets not forget the floor to ceiling bookcases with a library ladder or two. For now I'm and content to have my collection about me, with bookcases filling the living room and soon, the bedroom. My books will always have a home, a place to rest while they wait for someone to come along and explore their own little pleasures within those pages, ever effort being made to pass on that same contagious disease (if you want to call it that, I prefer to think of it as a blessing) that I caught all those years ago.

Welcome to A Bibliomaniac's Passion

Welcome, this blog is intended for a place to place my thoughts on anything book related, from building my personal library to making books to publishing.  I will, how ever, try to refrain from doing book reviews.  There are many other sites for such things.  That is not to say that they won't pop up from time to time and I may blog about what I'm reading.  If there are questions or comments please post them.  I love to hear the reactions of other people.