quarta-feira, 30 de janeiro de 2013

O fétiche por imagens de livros na internet / The fetish of book images on the internet

Eu pertenço a este clube! :)

Face Out: The Curious Rise of Bibliographics
Suzy Staubach

What does the proliferation of sites, books, and blogs celebrating images of books say about our relationship with the printed word?

While we debate whether reading a book printed on paper or via an e-reader is preferable, a fetish of book images has emerged here in the U.S. and in Europe, manifesting itself both online and in print books themselves. It has permeated Facebook, Pinterest, Tumblr, and beyond.

There is clearly a deep and widespread fascination with these images, representations of books, mirrors that cannot themselves be read. I admit that I’ve been pulled in, fascinated, looking, posting, but I still wonder what it signifies.

First, let’s take a quick tour.

The web site My Ideal Bookshelf (www.myidealbookshelf.com), which is also a book, features paintings of book spines by Jane Mount. The artist says she “paints portraits of people through the spines of books,” believing the books a person chooses to display tell a lot about him or her. On the site, you can commission an original painting by Mount in gouache on fine watercolor paper, framed or unframed, of your own favorite books. You can also order a painting for a friend or order notecards and prints of her earlier bookshelf portraits.

The companion book, My Ideal Bookshelf (9780316200905), features Mount’s paintings of the spines of books selected by dozens of well-known writers, such as Michael Chabon and Jennifer Eagan. The bright paintings, one shelf for each author, with a row of books against a white background, are an intimate peek at writers’ reading habits. Looking at Mount’s art, I found myself wanting a painting of my books too, although my house is awash in books.

Bookshelf (9780500516140) by Alex Johnson showcases modern and highly original bookshelves. There are “library” shelves that look like buildings and “pallet” shelves that look like, well, pallets, and shelves made of stainless steel or polyurethane. This is a heavily illustrated book, ostensibly for sophisticated designers who, as a professional matter, use books as presentation. Again, this is about images.

And then there’s Bookshelf Porn. In January 2009, Anthony Dever created his visual blog (http://bookshelfporn.com) using Tumblr “to allow people to indulge their love of books, libraries, bookstores, and bookcases by showcasing the best bookshelf photos from around the world.”

I think the notion of equating looking at and lusting after beautiful bookshelves filled with books with pornography is a keen insight into the increasing popularity of images of books and bookish things. Have books become objects of desire or is it the representation of books that is desired? Bookshelf Porn also has a strong presence on Facebook and Pinterest and was chosen by Time magazine as one of the 25 best blogs of 2012. The blog’s Facebook page has more than 52,000 likes—that’s 52,000 people looking at Facebook posts of bibliographics every day, often several times a day.

The Book Riot web site (http://bookriot.com) is devoted to lists and recommendations of books to read. Its Facebook page (www.facebook.com/BookRiot?fref=ts), however, is intensely visual, with frequent posts of images and quotes about books, reading, bookstores, and bookshelves. The posts are so good, it’s tempting to share all of them on your own or your bookstore’s page. Based in Brooklyn, Book Riot has a staff and attracts advertising. Its Facebook page boasts almost 33,000 likes.

Pinterest is a feast of book visuals, with many boards and pinners devoted to images of bookstores, libraries, books in art, quotes about books, bookshelves, other things made to look like books, people reading, and on and on. For starters, there’s Book Patrol, Book Expo, Bibliophilia, ABA, and many bookstore pinners focusing on book images as well as individuals with boards devoted to book images. I’m not talking about book-cover pins, which are essentially promotional, but delicious photos of books in every guise.

Tattered Cover has close to 3,000 followers of its many images on Pinterest. Why are all these people looking at pictures of benches made to look like books, earrings in the shape of books, cozy booklined rooms, bookmobiles, Middle Eastern bookstalls, and more?

Two recent illustrated books for people who love ogling images of beautiful rooms filled with books are Living with Books (9780500290309) by Dominique Dupuich and Roland Beaufre and Books Make a Home (9781849751872) by Damian Thompson. These are dream-books for those of us who don’t have houses large enough for separate library rooms or the funds to purchase all the books we would like to own.

Dreaming may explain the astonishing proliferation of book and book-related images and the many people flocking to them. I wonder if the images are a fantasy fulfillment of our desires. Are they salve for the unconscious fears that lurk in our reader souls as we spend our frantic days working in an increasingly technological world? Is it easier, less time-consuming in our time-pressed days, to feel admirably bookish by looking at these images rather than by actually reading? Are the people looking at and sharing and posting these images just book people looking for one more literary high? Is it a fad?

It’s certainly interesting that the surge of bibliographics coincides with the rise of e-books and the Internet. They are a different flavor of virtual.

As perplexed as I am about how to interpret what this means for our culture as a whole, neither do I know what it means for the physical books on our bookstore shelves or the e-books on our web sites. However, there is no question that representations of books are capturing the imaginations of many.

Whatever the meaning, as an extension of the book culture in which we already participate as purveyors of books, we cannot let ourselves be left behind. Perhaps it’s time to join the cult of bibliographics ourselves? 


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