Using books

Whenever the ‘print v pixel’ debate comes around, there is sure to be someone who says ‘you just can’t beat the feel of a book’. I have to say that, despite my love of all things digital – I am inclined to agree. There is something about the touch and smell of a brand new book that you just can’t beat. Equally, there is something about the weight of an old book in your hand which is indescribably pleasing. I have on my shelf a copy of Thomas a Kempis’ great work ‘The imitation of Christ’ printed in 1701. The woodcuts are still bright, and the tooling around the leather work of the cover is still distinct. However, the best thing about it is that if you heft it in your hand, you can feel that the spine has been ever so slightly moulded to the shape of somebody else’s hand over the past 300 years. When I touch that book I touch history.

Artist Alicia Martin clearly has a very tactile relationship with books too. Take a look at her sculpture biografias outside the Casa de America in Madrid. It is not new, but I have only just come across it and I am intrigued. What do you think?