When I was growing up in Cedarhurst, on Long Island, one of the highlights of my childhood was a trip to our local public library.
My mother started taking me there when I was very young, and they had reading sessions for kids and a special children's section for books. It did not take me long before I had plowed through all the children's books and was delighted when I was allowed to graduate to the rest of the library and its collection.
I was allowed to check out three books a week, and I got my first library card. It was my first serious piece of ID. I kept renewing my Cedarhurst Library card for many years thereafter. This morning, Lisa found it at the bottom of a drawer. It's a nice memory.
I might have let it go at that, had there also not been an article in the NY Times Style section that we read over breakfast today.
Apparently, people are now buying books by the foot and also by the color of the covers. They are not for reading, they are for adding 'taste' and 'color' to rooms.
Here, in one of the definitive moment of decorator BS, Mr. Blackwell, who works for Ultimate Books, a company that sells books by the meter, explains what having books in your house means, at least to him:
Books can be aesthetic signifiers, colorful set pieces of sorts, their spines telegraphing a certain gravitas — or a certain playfulness, depending on how they’re arranged. “I like to compare physical books to candles,” Mr. Blackwell said. “Light bulbs do the job, but there’s a strong aesthetic of a candle that puts soul into a room. Books do that, too. They create theater and drama.”
Mr. Blackwell is clearly a man who has never read a book, and most likely, neither have his clients.
Joining Mr. Blackwell in this travesty to literacy is Nancy Martin, the owner of Decades of Vintage, which sells vintage books by the foot, in sets by color or style. One foot of blue or red books costs $68; you can get rainbow shades for $80.
Says Ms. Martin:
“Around this time of year people start buying green, and in the summer, aquas and turquoises and yellows,” Ms. Martin said. “In the fall, what a phenomenon. People buy brown and brick and terra cotta and orange.” Around the holidays, people will buy gold and white, or sometimes special collections she makes of red and green. Blue is evergreen.
According to The Pew Trust, the average American today spends 7 hours and 55 minutes a day watching TV and 19 minutes a day reading.
Draw your own conclusions.
I am off to the Peninsula Public Library to renew my long expired card.