Thanks to St. Martin’s Press on Twitter, I was led to an article in the New York Times about people who hire someone to fill their home libraries. At first I thought it sounded like such a cool job to roam book stores and pick out books that the owner would enjoy reading, while filling their empty shelves.
I couldn’t have been more wrong. While some clients are interested in maybe some day reading what’s in their personal libraries, a lot more seem to look it more as a design space. Books are chosen for size and then covered with paper to match the decor of the room. Other clients like the fancy bound look of the old classics and don’t even care what language they’re written in as long as it makes the room look good.
This makes me sad on so many levels. I get upset just thinking about all the great books out there I’ll never get to read because I’ll just run out of time. I imagine the authors toiling away, putting their heart and souls into their books only to have them wrapped in paper and used as props in someone’s home or business. Unlike the empty Christmas presents under the trees in stores wrapped up so pretty with shiny paper and bows, books have real content under the jacket. And I have to wonder if any of these people with so much money to hire someone to “decorate” their library ever read any books for pleasure and where they keep them.
I love going into people’s homes and perusing their bookshelves. It’s always easy to spot their favorite books by the tattered, well-worn cover. I know I’m a romantic at heart and I’ve always owned books that I loved enough to read more than once (some every year). Most covers are a work of art themselves. I’ve pick up more than one book because I loved the cover. And I’ve seen how excited the authors get when they receive their covers and show them off online in blogs, websites and Facebook.
Maybe I’m overreacting, ok, most likely I am, but books just mean something so much more to me. Kind of like how other people feel about their pets. People can buy books and do whatever they want with them. Obviously, everyone wants their books to sell. But does it matter to an author if their book is covered and left to languish on a shelf as decoration? I sure don’t have the answer. How do you feel about this? Is it ok with you? Or is selling a book the bottom line and what happens next doesn’t matter? Or doesn’t any of it really matter if we’re all headed for the digital book age anyway?
Bottom Line: “A book is a gift you can open again and again.”~ Garrison Keillor