Thoughts and experiences of those tactile, lasting, beautiful, timeless objects called ‘books’, including their ownership, production, sale, theft and loss. See also our sister page on book design and illustration, here.

My publisher, falsely so called…

My publisher, falsely so called…

Listening time: under 3 minutes.I loved this drawn out account of Thoreau's dealings with a publisher wanting to clear out his cellar of Thoreau's unsold books, which Thoreau had in any case had to pay for.  So he gets them sent to his house, schleps them up several...

A capacious book thief

A capacious book thief

Steinbeck and Robert Capa spent a month in the Soviet Union. It took some time for Steinbeck to cotton on to the fact that his travelling companion was a closet biblioklept. I love the blithe insistence of innocence in Capa, even when caught book-handed, with that...

The history of books

The history of books

An idea so intrinsic to reading books, particularly those you love and remember, that I had never consciously thought of it.  Here, Michael Rosen describes his first encounter with a children's classic, and it made me recall early encounters with some...

A wilderness of books

A wilderness of books

This vast languishing resource was first brought home to me in Erik Reinert's How Rich Countries Got Rich ... and Why Poor Countries Stay Poor, which highlighted a lemming-level of group-think compounded by ignorance of an entire 'other canon' of economic...

‘Do you prefer reading to cards?’ said he; ‘that is rather singular’.

Jane Austen – Pride & Prejudice

Books hidden, books found

Armenians seemed to be particularly adept at averting bibliocide.  Some cultures, threatened with bibliocide, committed books to memory. The Armenians, apparently successfully committed to memory the whereabouts of hidden books and...

On the culling of books

I have long put off writing this post because I have an aversion to it.  A while back I bought a second hand book by Italo Calvino, Six Memos for...

Department of Exceptions

‘All good publishers have a department of exceptions.’

Perhaps any institution worth its salt should have a department of exceptions: schools admissions offices, human resources departments, government ministries.

Trouble is,...

Worse than cocaine

If you were traversing the Soviet Union it was better to be caught with a kilo of cocaine than a book. Let alone a book in English.

‘Worst of all...

A wilderness of books

This vast languishing resource was first brought home to me in Erik Reinert's How Rich Countries Got Rich ... and Why Poor Countries Stay Poor, which highlighted a lemming-level of...

Culling of books …

I sometimes feel like this when we go to the flea market in Geneva and survey a lifetime's worth of books chucked into banana boxes by the house clearance company...

A capacious book thief

Steinbeck and Robert Capa spent a month in the Soviet Union. It took some time for Steinbeck to cotton on to the fact that his travelling companion was a closet...

Hoovering up ideas

There's such a zest to this account of the Armenian approach to dealing with invaders: translate everything you can get your hands on, regardless of your relationship with other nations...

Tales from Australia and Oceania

This book cover and related illustrations are from a wonderful old French series of tales and stories from around the world.  I keep finding them at the flea market and...

Stash it in the safe

The business model of publishing doesn't seem to have been very attractive then, whatever you think of it now.  Thoreau makes several comments about dealing with publishers.  Imagine a stack...

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