Monday, December 16, 2019

A Book That Defends Books

About 6,000 years ago humans learned to write.  Egyptian hieroglyphics date back 5,200 years ago, and alphabet-based writing dates to 3,000 years ago. But it seems a revolution in books has occurred at two points – in the 1450’s with the invention of Gutenberg’s movable-type printing press, and in the 1990’s with the advent of the Internet, Amazon and digital text.  In reading The Case for Books: Past, Present, and Future by Robert Darnton, you feel not only an appreciation for the history of the book but also for its anticipated future.

Written in 2009, this book is a wonderful tribute to books.  The author states his objective in the introduction, “This is a book about books, an unashamed apology for the printed word, past, present, and future.  It is also an argument about the place of books in the digital environment that has now become a fundamental fact of life for millions of human beings.”

He concludes: “Books also refuse to be contained within the confines of a single discipline when treated as objects of study.  Neither history, nor literature, nor economics, nor sociology, nor bibliography can do justice to all aspects of the life of a book. By its very nature, therefore, the history of books must be international in scale and interdisciplinary in method but it need not lack conceptual coherence, because books belong to circuits of communication that operate in consistent patterns, however complex they may be.  By unearthing those circuits, historians can show that books do not merely recount history, they make it.”

“Books are companions for life – and ideal companions at that.  They are constantly there when you need them, uncomplaining if cast aside, always ready to continue the relationship wherever it left off.  You can take a book (paper or screen) on a plane or train, to the beach or to a hospital appointment.  Sitting alone in a café or restaurant becomes a less solitary experience if you are accompanied by a book.

“Books, at their best, can nourish the mind and liberate the spirit.  They can comfort, humor, thrill, intrigue and arouse. Reading can be a leisurely affair, allowing time for reflection or to retrace one’s steps in an intricate narrative.  It can be a white-knuckle ride, pitching the reader, wide-eyed and dry-mouthed into the on-rushing story.  And few experiences are more rewarding than reading to children, especially a much-loved book from one’s own early years.”

--For the Love of Books Stories of Literary Lives, Banned Books, Author Feuds, Extraordinary Characters and More by Graham Tarrant


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Brian Feinblum’s insightful views, provocative opinions, and interesting ideas expressed in this terrific blog are his alone and not that of his employer or anyone else. You can – and should -- follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels much more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog ©2019. Born and raised in Brooklyn, he now resides in Westchester. His writings are often featured in The Writer and IBPA’s Independent.  This was named one of the best book marketing blogs by Book Baby and recognized by Feedspot in 2018 as one of the top book marketing blogs. Also named by as a "best resource.” He recently hosted a panel on book publicity for Book Expo America.

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