Saturday, June 11, 2011

"The death of the bookmark"

I'm old enough now that I've seen my share of headlines declaring the death of plenty of things. Sometimes these declarations are premature, sometimes not. "The death of the dollar." Soon, I think. "The death of email." When was the last time you really used email? I use Twitter, Direct Message, Facebook, blog commenting.... Email seems old and clunky now, doesn't it? "The Death of Global Warming." Die, global warming, die. "The death of the PC". Interesting article from Forbes.

Today I pronounce the death of the bookmark.

The humble bookmark, a workaholic so humble and insignificant. Yet so important. It stands at the bulwark of pages, holding the place for the reader. Whenever he next happens to think about his book, whether it be a moment or a year, there the bookmark will be, ready for him. There is the bookmark, having held its position for all that time.

They come in different shapes, some clip on, some are metal, some are paper, some have ribbons and some are long and some are short. Bookmarks are personal. You want just the right kind for yourself, and it also has to match the book. I have one that is metal, and evokes a stained glass pane in a cathedral. It doesn't work in a paperback, though, needing a heftier spine to keep the metal in place. I use that one in hardbacks.

Others have saying on them, and acquiring one that has a saying in which you don't believe, or agree, ruins the bookmark's prospects for being put in the line of duty. Those I re-gift, or I throw away. Some hapless bookmarks simply are never used, for no reason. I have one that is a clipping of a larger watercolor I did, it looks like a rainbow. I like it but I rarely use it. I don't know why.

The bookmark on the left is of Charleston, and I like Charleston so I use the bookmark. The middle one is the oft-overlooked watercolor strip. The one on the right has "The Salvation Poem" on it so that's an big yes to using it.

Here is a history of bookmarks and this little tiny but mighty lieutenant has been helping us since the days of papyrus.

Dear Reader, I don't know if you have mused on this trusty and stalwart reading aid much, or if bookmarks even have a place in your heart. But beware, this little trooper is in danger. He is in the early stages of decline, and being marginalized as we speak. Obsolescence looms. Why?


An electronic book! Now far be it for me to deny reading materials to those in places where acquiring them is difficult. But an electronic book?? I cannot fathom it. Am I too old, resisting technological change after it is warranted? Did the ancients adhere to their wax tablets long after it was obvious that papyrus was an improvement? Did the papyrus crowd hang onto their 42 foot long scrolls long after it was obvious that the unwieldy form was being supplanted by a more economical one? But how, how can a Kindle be better than a book? I just don't see it. Worse, a Kindle doesn't require a traditional bookmark. Oh, woe to the little helper! And if it means the bookmark will go the way of the dodo, then I am against Kindles.

Interested in the different forms of a book? Here is a great resource, "The Evolution of the Book."


Ma said...

I still use email..I'm a facebookaphob :)

I hear good things about the kindle, but don't know how they could take the place of a good ol' book.

MTVA said...

Kindle makes me feel sad. It's too artificial..too tech. I hope we never lose real books. Although when I think of all the books I'll have to pack up when I move I feel tired already! Why is it so difficult to part with a book you have bought and read? Probably because we enjoyed the book and figure we'll read it again some day...meanwhile other books crowd in!

Christie said...

If you travel often, I can see the attraction of a Kindle - load it up and take 20 books and only use the tiniest fraction of space to carry it all. But give me a real book any day. There is just something about the feel of a book and the sound of a page being turned that cannot be simulated.