A hardback says it all.
16 September 2014 by Marketing Team
Following up from looking at IKEAs amazing new “Bookbook”, we’ve decided to take a more in depth look at books and their current place in the world…..
At our new offices in Chelmsford, on the second floor, there’s a library of legal books, most of them large and cumbersome and hardback in their nature. ‘Obsolete’ you might say; a relic of the 20th century and beyond. But is that true, or do hardback books offer more than at first it might appear to the naked eye. Rob Philips from the marketing team, investigates….
Some weeks ago, I purchased a book by Mark Forsyth, called The Etymologicon, after I watched him with open mouth on Something for the Weekend. Mark is an expert on the English language, his enthusiasm for the subject captivated me as he begun discussing Shakespeare’s invention of words and what English owes its existence too. One mention of the book and my attention turned to Amazon on my iPhone, this was a must have.
During my Amazon hunt the book cropped up for £3, perfect. Sometime later my delivery arrived, paperback! I couldn’t believe it, this is not a book meant for paper back. Paperback is the sort of publishing designed for Dan Brown’s Angels & Demons, not a piece on the English Language. And while my comment may seem harsh towards Angels & Demons, it is not my intention to insult the book or the author, but it (in my opinion) is not a book one will return to throughout life to brush up what was learnt upon the first read. Angels & Demons is just not the type of book someone would chase for a first edition hardback. Harry Potter on the other would be, in fact, this year a full first edition set sold in auction for £11,000, now that would be a first edition worth having.
This may seem pompous to some, but I now own two copies of the Etymologicon, one paperback and one hardback. But there is a reason for this seemingly nonsensical behaviour. When you look at an old hardback, what do you see? Do you see a battered, uninteresting and out dated book? Or like me, do you see a book telling a grander story than the one enclosed within its cover? You see, the beauty of an old hardback is we have no idea of the life it has lived, the places it has seen or the hands which have clutched it. Just the other day, I was grazing through the book collection of a place a friend was looking after. I found a gem, a 1919 first edition of The Five of Trumps by T. A. Fitzgerald, there is a chance this novel is terrible and not particularly famous in any way.
But think of the opposite, perhaps this novel was taken aboard the first commercial aviation flight, or found nestled in the knapsack of a fallen World War II soldier. Maybe a famous star borrowed the book from a close friend, something completely regular to the past owner but priceless to the current one. Or just maybe, this book has never been read. Kept as a token of the love two people shared, hidden safely in plain sight to live its days amongst more interesting books, but harmonious in the knowledge that its story holds more substance than any of its more illustrious neighbours.
Books have the potential to hold two stories, the one between its pages and the other its own life. So the next time you spot a lonely old hardback resting between other books, take a moment to think about where it has been or what life was like during its publication. Perhaps a war was brewing, happening or recently ended, perhaps that very book survived the burning of a city or the sinking of a ship? You just never know.