Sunday, October 12, 2014

Vermicelli Piano Piano

I went to the Frankfurt Book Fair today, publishers' annual bash for buying and selling foreign rights to titles. Of course it’s more than that. It’s also a showplace for trends, a marketing extravaganza, lectures and awards, and a book feast. On the last days many publishers sell the books they’ve brought along, rather than schlepping them halfway around the world on airplanes. 

There’s plenty of book fetishism to go around - the righteous adoration of das Ding an sich. It’s exemplified in this gorgeous Phaidon book, Cookbook Book, which as you’d guess is a book about cookbooks, with pictures of various cookbooks from various countries. Phaidon, like most publishers, cuts prices the last day but even so I thought it too pricey and useless to justify buying. Now, at 9 pm, I have the melancholy opposite of buyer’s remorse. 

Looking the book over at the fair, I thought of my favorite aphorist, Georg Christoph Lichtenberg, who said in 1773, “Nowadays we already have books about books and descriptions of descriptions.”

He also said, “If another Messiah was born he could hardly do so much good as the printing press.”

And, “If, as Leibniz has prophesied, libraries one day become cities, there will still be dark and dismal streets and alleyways as there are now.” 

I left with one book for myself on collage, and bought my daughter most of what her heart desired, and even found a graphic novel for my reluctant-reader son, because that’s what money is for.

1 comment:

Kathleen said...

That IS what money is for!

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