Sunday, December 27, 2009

Calling all Bibliophiles

What makes a bibliophile? Do you love books more if you preserve them, stack them neatly, store them away for future generations to admire from afar? Are you any less a booklover if you write in them, fold them, engage with them, lend them without promise of getting it back? That's the question posed by Steven Leveen in "So... Are You Going to Write in That New Book?" from the Huffington Post. He posits two types of reader: Preservationsists ("They see books as cherished objects that eventually will be passed on to others. You shouldn't contaminate them with your thoughts of the moment") and Footprint Leavers ("For them, books are like food to be heartily enjoyed, and if need be, consumed in the interest of a healthy diet. Writing in the margins and underlining are healthy interactions and make the book more valuable to them, which is their concern. There are plenty of unmarked books to go to posterity, they say; this one book will give its all to them"). They are both bibliophiles, to be sure, but have opposite philosophies when it comes to the place of books in our culture. Myself, I am sort of midway - I don't write in the margins of my books, and I love the presence of books on the bookshelf, but I don't necessarily go to great lengths to protect my books - I want to read them, and engage with them as the physical objects they are. However, I have purchased a replacement copy of a book when a borrower left the borrowed copy in a well-read state (too much of a Footprint Leaver). So I suppose I am a Preservationist, just not an adamant one. You can do whatever you like to your own books, just leave mine alone.

Read Leveen's full article here.

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