What do people mean when they say, ‘I love books’?
Do they mean they love improving their mind or inspiring their soul by reading? Or the giddy sensation of leaving your own world and plunging headfirst into an entirely new one? Or is it the sheer sensual pleasure of a book, the feel of paper under your fingers, the smell, the way the balance of the weight in your hand shifts from right to left as you progress from start to end?
OK, that’s a trick question. For me at least it’s all of the above. And that’s perhaps why ebooks aren’t simple substitutes for print books – they tick only some of these boxes (which might be fine for your purposes, or it might not).
Booklovers are also known as bibliophiles. But there’s a category above and beyond this – the bibliogeek. It’s the difference between enjoying the Star Wars movies and knowing that R2D2 got his name from film crew shorthand for ‘reel two of the second dialogue track’.
So are you merely a blbiophile, or are you a full-on bibliogeek? Here’s a quick test. Think of the last (print) book you really enjoyed, the one you’re reading at the moment or have just finished, but which you can’t see right now (that’s important).
Now answer the following questions (if you don’t know what the question means, you don’t get the point):
1. Who’s the publisher? _____________________
2. Is the paper cream or white? _____________________
3. Is there showthrough? _____________________
4. Is there spot laminate on the cover? _____________________
5. Does the cover have flaps? _____________________
6. Is the interior black-and-white, two-colour, or full-colour? _____________________
7. Is the body text serif or san-serif? _____________________
8. Running heads: top, bottom or sides? _____________________
9. Drop caps or no drop caps? _____________________
10. Index or no index? _____________________
Now get the book, and add up your correct answers (remembering that if you didn’t understand the question, you don’t get the point, even if you guessed right).
How did you do?
0-3: You may love books, but you are no bibliogeek. Which is fine. Count yourself lucky, keep focusing on the important things in life and just enjoy books for the actual writing in them.
4-7: Wow, you are edging towards serious book-geekery. You notice the details, which probably means that a badly designed book makes you wince, but that you can take real pleasure in a well-designed book. Overall, you remain a pretty well balanced person.
8-10: There’s no hope for you. Either you cheated because achieving bibliogeek status matters to you more than your integrity, or you’re a publisher. Either way, I salute you.