Tuesday, 13 January 2009


I have been reclaiming my books from the family library. By 'my' books, I mean the books that I've received as presents or bought out of my own money; the ones I can take with me when I, someday, move away from home.

Doing things by halves is never as much fun as doing them by wholes or even twos, so I decided to make bookplates with fancy latin words and pretty lettering. I began pasting the bookplates into my books, beginning with many of my old favourites. As you can see in the picture, there's a convenient space just between the title and the publisher's name. It seemed that it might well be an old publishing convention to cater for book-buyers who use bookplates.

As I got to the newer titles, I found that my convenient spot was disappearing. The space would be filled with a picture or the text would be huge, so that it took up the whole page. Interestingly, it was the books that I consider to have a lower literary value that most disregarded this newly discovered convention of mine.

Having decided this, I found that one of the oldest books in my collection has an image just where I would have placed the bookplate. My theory took a rather hard knock. The funny thing is that even though I've disproved my original theory, I still have an animosity for books that use pictures - especially extensive pictures - on the title page. The book, I feel, is about the words. Occasional, simple line drawings are one thing, but great blazes of stars on the title page don't make a book a better read and look gaudy.

Now I'm asking myself if this opinion is the consequence of my original theory or if I would have decided this without the theory. I think it's a little of both: I've never been a fan of books with complex or many pictures, but I wouldn't care so much about the topic if I hadn't reached it by another route.


  1. Thanks! I discovered I own 33 books which is more than I expected.