The article includes a shout-out to Scott Brown, who co-founded and edits the excellent Fine Books & Collections. I am a proud subscriber of said magazine and routinely drool over its glossy pages of unattainable book-related wealth. I kid, but only marginally; the magazine has excellent content but sometimes I feel I only buy it for the pictures. I love the fact that it’s a high-gloss, swanky-looking thing. The slippery tactile quality of an expensive magazine still appeals to me, despite the fact that they should probably be obsolete.
Which brings me back to books as art: I have mixed feelings. While the thought that these books escape the stinking landfill hell that is the end of so many less-than-cherished volumes; I’m wistful that the content can mean so little in the end. Carving a Harlequin Romance into a heart-shaped-book is mildly clever bit of pop irony; but these astounding objets d’art are still the best-of-the-best to me—a wondrous new form derived from the content.
The problem is, a lot of book art has nothing to do with the contents of the books, and they simply become raw materials. As I said above: better beauty than refuse. But I get a little nauseous at how often book collecting and selling becomes divorced from reading. Turning old books into pieces of art is occasionally not far enough for me from those people who buy and sell leather books by the metre to fill empty shelves in the cavernous lairs of the rich.
I love beautiful books and I fetishize along with the rest of you; but I fell guilty about it now and then.