“An ivory what?” you may well ask. In the process of researching and writing The Book (which is, need I say, available from all good bookshops, I came across any number of tidbits that lay just fractionally below the interesting-ness threshold required for inclusion in the book. One discovery in particular, though, has had me kicking myself since I first handed in the manuscript back in 2015, and I still wish I’d found a way to incorporate it into the narrative. Here it is!
Quite honestly, sometimes I’m not sure how I feel about books. Paper books, I mean, like the ones currently clogging my bedside table and piled beside my keyboard. I catch myself sighing whenever I have to reach for the enumerated bulk of the Chicago Manual of Style, or as I hunt through my bookshelves for some half-remembered bit of information. We’ve spent 50 years freeing information from the prison of the paper book, making it ubiquitous, searchable and self-replicating, and so it is easy to wonder: what are physical books good for?
Did I mention that my second book is coming out next month? I did? In the course of writing it I interviewed a whole host of people involved with the arts and crafts that go into making books, and the run-up to the publication of The Book seems like an apt time to share some of their experiences and knowledge.