Physical books are currently too cheap and too numerous. Publishers seem to churn out paperbacks like battery hens laying eggs. But who’s going to buy a paperback when you’ve got a Kindle, Kobo or iPad? The airport bookshop is dead. It just doesn’t know it yet. But that doesn’t mean that physical books are dead too. A bibliophile’s bookshelves speak of who they are more clearly than any collection of CDs, records or DVDs. However, finding space on those bookshelves is ever more tricky. ‘The Da Vinci Code’? On your Kindle. ‘Bridget Jones’? Kindle. These days, shelves are reserved for unusual, beautiful books – books, we hope, like ours. ‘One For The Trouble’ costs £30 – a premium price for a premium book that just begs to be taken down, weighed in your hand and thumbed through.
One of the most striking features in this new wave of high-quality books produced by smaller presses is the renewed focus on illustrations. Pictures have been largely absent from the adult reading experience for the past 50 years, although this was hardly the case 50 years before that, when readers expected visual nudges as to what Scrooge saw when he was confronted by the Christmas ghosts or how Tom and Maggie clutched each other as they went down together at the end of The Mill on the Floss
Two articles, similar themes: eBooks are dominating the reading landscape, but people sometimes want to do more than just read a book, they want to hold the book, share the book, pass it around their friends - the physical object gains additional meaning. To do so, means making sure that the book is a beautiful thing, a well printed, well bound article that deserves shelf space.