Sunday, 7 October 2012


Books furnish a room, are something to put on the shelf (spines in rainbow order or not, as you choose), or are stacked neatly in alphabetical order or by Dewey Decimal system. Or, like mine, shelved reasonably neatly wherever I have space with what I want to read regularly close at hand. 

My work involves short-run print publishing in an increasingly digital age. People think I'm doing the equivalent of running a vinyl record press. That may well be true - the only certainty is the number of works on 'digitisation' and 'the death of print medium' will rise. Are paper books to become (again) the preserve of the rich? Or will the rise in e-books persuade print publishers to adapt? Turning the physical pages may yet become obsolete, but a drag of a finger, the idea of turning pages is retained on the even-more expensive ipad? The trade seems a mass of contradictions at present. The one constant is that readers continue to read in a variety of formats.

It's almost a contradiction in itself, but the advances in short-run printing are what allow tiny presses like mine to operate. To stand out from the paperback market, I use a slightly heavier weight of paper - it isn't as soft as that used in many paperbacks, so my books are more durable. The margins are wide so that it's possible to open the book to read without breaking the spine in three places and risking pages becoming unglued from the spine. I'm generous with spacing between the lines too which allows you to read and not see lines of print blur.

My books are, in fact, designed to be read more than once because I think that re-reading is one of life's pleasures. Most of us know some books so well that we almost don't need the texts, but remembering and seeing new tiny details is part of the pleasure. Then again, there's also the pleasure of opening a new book and finding a new favourite.

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