Books as Ornaments

“By way of decorating a baby shower with the second edition of “Staff Patient Communication” because it is the right shade of pink, we here enter the realm of the truly objectified book, a world that has everything to do with extraordinary abundance and zero to do with content”

–Mireille Silcoff, writing in The New York Times about the increasing tendency to fetishize physical books as reading shifts to digital devices.

Year ago, when I owned a bookstore and learned that The Strand Bookshop sold “books by the yard” to decorators, I was both envious and mortified. In my little town, we had a shortage of people who could afford to buys books for reading, much less for decorating. Still, it is important to remember that a book is not the container that holds it, just as we are not merely the bodies we live in.

As a reader, I find that I still prefer physical books in some settings, although I prefer e-books in others. I like to turn pages when I read a book I’m reviewing, but I often switch to an electronic version and use keyword searches while writing my review. I hope to see the day when bundling both versions becomes standard practice.

As a writer, I spend so much time staring at computer screens that I find reading physical books a pleasant diversion.

Finally, there is no getting around the fact that you cannot promote your book at personal appearances, if it’s only available as an e-book. Most readers enjoy meeting and interacting with authors, so for that reason alone, I think physical books will remain with us a while longer.

Frazeology end note


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Eric F. Frazier

Eric F. Frazier is an independent writer, editor, book reviewer and co-author of GPS Declassified: From Smart Bombs to Smartphones.