Treating books like Schott

Ben Schott (he of the Miscellany) writes that true book lovers mistreat their books. Killing them with kindness through turning down the pages in a loving fashion, it seems. A delightfully whimsical article and a gentle Sunday read (although it is of course Monday morning now!)

More here. He even mentions using a book as a hiding place for valuables (by carving out a space inside); I was wondering about this for some unknown reason this weekend.

Is he right, or is he talking Schott? You tell me. To some extent, I understand his point that mass-market books should not be untouched objects suitable only for veneration and kid-glove treatment. When I worked as a library shelver, I was sometimes puzzled by conservation requirements that certain people expressed as applying equally to 70-year-old well-bound volumes and current-year multiple-copy teaching textbooks (which were frequently bound so badly that no measure of conservation could save them, and anyway once the students get them home they eat, sleep and drink on them…). On the other hand, I think there’s a fine line between the book lover battering his or her own books and the bored bookshop worker flinging books around as if they were tins of peas.


One thought on “Treating books like Schott

  1. I think it really depends on the circumstances.

    Example: Me & On The Road (Kerouac)

    I love this book, truly, madly, deeply – I’ve read it maybe a dozen times or more. The first copy I had of it, I’ve read it so many times that it’s relatively ragged. By which I mean, it looks like it has been read many, many times – though crucially it looks like it has been overused by a book lover rather than being abused by an ignoramus (isn’t that the point?). Eventually I even started marking parts of the book that I really loved… but, and maybe this is the moral of the story, as soon as I did, I decided I needed a new, clean copy of the book. So now I have two – one, what we’ll call “annotated”, model, and one… library model?

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