Tuesday, 19 April 2016


Ever observe the paper of a book?
By African American Photographs
Assembled for 1900 Paris Exposition [Public domain]
I wonder how the paper felt under her fingers?

I have. I started noticing the quality and type of book paper when I started reading cheap mass-market paperbacks as a teen in the 80's. I was aghast at the cheap grey manilla paper that didn't slide well under my fingers the way a higher-quality bond did.

Me, I like to finger the pages as I read. I'll tuck a finger under the next page in anticipation of a turn. I never realised how much I loved a smooth paper that glides under my fingers until I handled a cheap mass-market paperback. It's like it sucks all the softness from your fingers and leaves them a raw mess.

And when these books get old, this paper seems to disintegrate. How unpleasant on many levels.

Last year I browsed my bibliography shelf and considered the quality of the printings of the anthologies with works of mine. I marvelled at how nice and smooth the paper was. I honestly haven't bought a cheap mass-market paperback since... I dunno. But the hardcopy books I have recently acquired? They feel lovely.  I have a print proof of HEYC coming my way. All I know about the paper is that it's "60# cream" (what is that in GSM?) and I'm looking forward to seeing how it feels.

So now I've got an ebook reader. For most books I read, gone are the days of loving or loathing the paper of a book. But am I sad? No, because the e-ink screen of a good ebook reader looks just like paper to me.

I find that comforting.

Her Grace is very much into touch and texture. Ask her sometime about natural fibres vs manmade. Nylon will never feel like silk. Ever.


E.M. Goldsmith said...

I do read books on Kindle and listen to them on Audible just because my appetite for books is insatiable. However, for a really good book, I still like the feel of that paper in my hands, being able to leaf through the pages, the smell, the dog-eared corners for the best passages that I must revisit on occasions. Great and timely post.

Deborah Weber said...

I do pay attention and I agree it's really delightful to have a high quality paper. Although I do use an ebook reader, I really do prefer to experience paper books.

I'm delighted to have found my way here via A-to-Z and will be heading backwards to catch up on your earlier posts.

John Frain said...

Oh, this was fun to read. I, too, tend to place my finger under the next page ready to turn. It's like an old blanket, eh! I haven't converted to an e-reader yet, not sure what I'm waiting for. Actually, yes I am. I'm waiting for someone to buy me one. Ha!