The Life of the Book.
While recently travelling to a few cities in Europe that had been on my wish list for many years, I made some observations.
Many people are still reading, actual books with paper pages!
It gave me a warm feeling in my heart to see it and I took a few shots to prove my case.
In Paris in a Metro tunnel I saw a young woman reading a paperback novel as she walked, so engrossed that she kept walking and reading while the crowds parted around her.
On the train in Paris, Berlin and Prague, I often saw commuters open up a book instead of playing a game on their I- phone. One woman even had her paperback secured in a special fabric cover that the book slipped into. I saw books being read in parks, in airport lounges and on trams.
Neil Gaiman said ‘…a town isn’t a town without a bookstore. It may call itself a town but unless it’s got a bookstore it knows it’s not fooling a soul.’
These European cities have the most wonderful book stores. I focussed on children’s picture books and looked through many, admiring the great covers and wonderful illustrations. It seems that the larger hard cover format is popular and the stores also stocked many children’s classics like ‘The Little Prince’ and others in translation as well as English versions of ‘Gruffalo’ and ‘Where the Wild Things Are.’
Apart from new bookstores, Paris and Prague have great second hand outlets. There is Abbeys in Paris with its floor to ceiling shelves of books and the Shakespeare bookstore, maybe the most famous independent store still trading, sited in its 17th century building facing the Seine and within sight of Notre Dame.
There are also treasures in the brocantes and flea markets. I found a copy of an old book with vintage illustrations called ‘Les Malheurs de Sophie’ by La Comtesse de Segur with illustrations by Calvet Rogniat and a hard cover copy of Jon Klassen’s ‘Je veux mon chapeau’. In the window of an antique book seller, Livres Anciens, I saw a copy of a Jules Verne’s book, extravagantly illustrated, for sale for E300. Luckily the store was closed.
So the book lives on and there is nothing quite like the wonderful feel of those paper pages as well as the aroma of books as you enter a bookstore, a whole world of inspiration.