12 May 2004
When books were scarce and precious, an owner used a book-plate (ex libris) to identify his/her ownership. Conceived as a functional object, the bookplate has become a self-sufficient work of art, an attractive collectors' item and an object of research.
The Village Voice on the purpose of book signings:
Collectors collectively decided that a book with a dust jacket was more desirable, and hence worth more, than an unjacketed one. Indeed, only a jacketed copy was regarded as truly complete... Over the past decade, collectors have come to regard an unsigned book as similarly incomplete. "I have it," you'll hear someone say, "but it's not signed." If the author is still alive, the sentence ends a little differently. "But it's not signed yet," the collector will say.
The Guardian's review of Dubravka Ugresic's Thank You for Not Reading:
She began to realise that literary life had become swamped by its epiphenomena, that books' blurbs and author photographs had become more important than their content, that the industry was overrun by middlemen and women whom writers had to pay for, that bookstores resembled supermarkets whose fruit and vegetables had mutated and lost their flavour in favour of external appearance. She contrasts this situation with that of the torcedores, the cigar-rollers, in Cuba's tobacco factories, where they hire readers to read to the workers. "The listeners in my Cuban fantasy are not passive ... Their literary taste is as sharp as a razor, they react to every badly used word, to every false note."
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