Illiteracy can be beautiful

The bookish among you, look away now.




I (lol) always feel a little sad when I see books being torn up or trashed in any way. Is this yet another copywriter’s occupational hazard? However, although these sculptures could be dismissed as ‘book abuse’, there’s also something rather beautiful about them. There are loads more amazing ones at the link.

I guess if the Kindle and all the other e-books really do take off, this could be what libraries of the future will look like?

This got us thinking about e-books and the inevitable digitisation of writing. Obviously there are benefits to e-books (the environment, obviously). But I still hope real, tangible, tactile books that you can write margin notes in, admire the cover design, and smell the print of… will be around forever. Having tried out a Sony Reader the other day, I was struck by how difficult it must be to hold down your concentration with one of them, when you know there are however many other stories only a click away. Like when you’re listening to music on an i-pod, there’s a massive temptation to skip tracks when you get bored a few seconds in.

I can’t help wondering whether devices like this just feed indecision and impatience in a way, creating a kind of Attention Deficit in the way we consume things. It’s the same when we use the internet – constantly flitting between pages, channels, documents. At least with a record, you couldn’t skip to the end, you had to wait, to pay attention to every detail. I think there is something nice in that – more respect for the artist maybe? The trouble with digitising books is that some of the most rewarding of novels take a lot of effort to get in to. So I think there’s a real risk of readers missing
out if you can so easily just click onto something else. On the other hand, perhaps by putting books into these new formats, publishers can actually reach out to a different type of audience who would never normally have picked up an old style book. Is this likely? I’m not sure. Saying that, I’m probably just a luddite stuck in the wrong generation…Oh well, back to these dynamic MPUs.




2 thoughts on “Illiteracy can be beautiful

  1. Steve,
    I know we both agree with Whitehead “Sometimes the opposite of a great truth is another great truth”
    and Tony Benn “Democracy is about the vitality of the debate, not about crushing the opposition”.


  2. Just one tiny nit-pick.
    Saatchi’s actual (usually misquoted) comment was “In order to win I just have to make you lose”.
    Much more interesting and useful than “it’s not enough” IMHO.
    (Witness how Brazil broke Spain last night.)


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