“Never judge a book by its cover”, so they say…
… ‘They’ also say, “all that glitters is not gold”
But aren’t they pretty when you put the two together?!
I work in a bookshop specialising in second hand and antiquarian books and quite often I will be drawn to a particular spine on a shelf… a unique font, a gilded image or embossed design… and I just have to gently retrieve it from the shelf and have a little fondle! Ok…that’s perhaps a bit strange, but old books are fascinating and should be handled with wonder…and also care!
If properly shelved, the spine of a book is the only thing a browser can see, it’s the only thing that gives us the initial information we need…What’s it called? Who wrote it? Who published it?
Alas though, 99% of the time we probably only absorb the information written on the spine. If we do pull a book down from the shelf, it is usually the cover that one remembers most.
…granted though…every spine isn’t as beautifully attended to like this!
When I posted a picture on twitter of one of these prettily adorned book frontages, a pirate pal dug up the most apt terminology… “Treasure!”, she said! And treasures they are!
To think that perhaps they have lain unloved on a shelf for many a year, decaying after years of unfondlefication (my own word!) and yet the pages well thumbed and its back almost broken from the years of activity it had before it came to lay..
And how inspiring…I think I see a knitted cable pattern hiding within The War of The Roses!
… and then along come I, catching your gilt edges shining just a little bit more in the sun today than yesterday…and I can’t help but admire and delve in for a better peek at all your prettiness!
I don’t think we do covers (or spines) the same these days. Oh! Don’t get me wrong, I think there is amazing cover art and artists working out there to peak our interests in the written word (for even though we shouldn’t judge a book by the cover, it is a major selling point)
I am thinking particularly of artists such as Rob Ryan…his papercuts on John Connolly’s, The Book of Lost Things…the current Vintage collection that has been brought out in conjunction with the V&A, with covers designed by Zandra Rhodes and Philip Treacy… or the Puffin 70th Anniversary Designer Classics…
…Ooh yes these collections of pretties are very high on my ‘Most Coveted’ list
But usually these kind of covers are limited edition, pretty costly etc, and it just makes me appreciate the workmanship and artistry of wonderful rare old books even more!
One day I will blog about my favourite hand-written dedications inside books. Does anyone still do this? Once a friend told me not to write in any books I gifted her, in case she wanted to sell it on ebay! This was the same pal who asked the wonderful Armistead Maupin (his own books so beautifully artfully adorned!), if he could sign a bit of paper for her to keep in the book, rather than the frontpages…presumably for the same reason she had given me!
I like to see a dedication from the book giver to the book receiver. I love used books because they were pre-loved – maybe not always enjoyed, right enough, but I love the romance of it all – who gave it to whom? What was the sentiment behind the giving? Who touched the same pages as I do? Did they laugh or cry at the same parts I did? Mostly the questions are never answered, but they are part of the story nonetheless.
…Tomorrow’s weather is for rain. Not many people will be about if the weather is dreich, but if you have nothing else to do, come along and find me digging for treasure!
Yealtaland Books, Main Street, Scalloway, Shetland. (01595) 880335