Wednesday, April 27, 2011

There's something very special about a hardcover book

Books have always been extremely important to me. As the photo shows, even as a little kid, I used the bathroom as a library so not a moment of potential reading time was wasted. In 2011, the only piece of furniture I can visualize from the Bronx apartment my parents brought me home to in 1946 is a mahogany bookshelf. As a child with an early bedtime, I read books by flashlight under the blanket. Even now, I share my bed with my wife, our dog, and usually a book or my iPad.

Before TiVo gave me the ability to fast-forward, I always read during TV commercials. I read at most meals -- even at restaurants. Some people think it's rude. I think it's efficient.

I've always had a strong reverence for books. Maybe it comes from my parents, who were avid readers. As a Jew, I am part of "the people of the book." When I was in college, I sometimes spent food money on books (and on records, too, I admit). I was still building bookshelves two weeks before I was due to move out of my college apartment.

When I see books in the trash, I rescue them. When a friend's older brother and his friends gathered around a barbecue grill at the end of the school year to burn their school books, I tried to rescue them, but was blocked by superior force. Assholes!

I seldom think of sin, but if sins do exist, book burning is certainly high on the list.

After writing paperbacks since 1977 and eBooks since 2009, yesterday I received a proof of my first hardcover, a new format for my "stories" book. I feel very strange. The book feels very good. It looks beautiful, with a glossy dust jacket and the title and my name stamped in bright golden ink on the cloth covering the binding.

A hardcover book provides a special experience. Perhaps eBooks will replace paperbacks, but I don't think anything can replace hardcovers.

Torah scrolls are still handwritten, after thousands of years. Grave stones are still chiseled. Initials are still carved on trees. They should still be readable long after the last Kindle and Nook are recycled.

Even though I am the sole employee of my publishing company, this book seems about 96% as "professional" as the new Tina Fey book from publishing giant Hachette. Even though I've seen the cover design and read the title hundreds of times, I can't resist holding it, feeling it and studying it. Even though I've read my own words hundreds of times, I can't resist reading again.

I got the idea to write this book way back when I was 11 or 12. I recently became 65. I'm not sure if this book represents my life's work, but if it does, that's OK with me. I'm very proud of the book (I've never thought that pride is sinful.)  I honestly think it's a very good book and fortunately, so do the reviewers.

The hardcover book seems so much more "real" than other formats. I'm almost in awe of it and don’t want to mark it up with a red pen as I do with my paperback proofs. It would seem like defacing a library book -- and that's a sin.

3 comments:

  1. And so you should be proud. A life's work is an ambition many people can only dream of; writing it down means we will never forget.

    Love the picture!!

    CJ xx

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