18 December 2005

book notes

Jessamyn West pointed the other day to a piece about lifehacking books by writing in them, with apologies to librarians. It brought to mind a bit from Roger Tory Peterson that I quoted in a paper I wrote about DRM and e-books last spring:
Roger Tory Peterson, author of the classic A Field Guide to the Birds wrote, when the book's second edition came out, that he was always happy when people showed him their copies of his book.
"It is gratifying to see a copy marked on nearly every page, for I know that it has been well used. Although the cover is waterproofed, I have seen many copies with home-made oilcloth jackets; I have seeen copies torn apart, reorganized and rebound to suit the owners taste; others have been tabbed with index tabs, or fitted with flaps or envelopes to hold daily check-lists."*
Nothing new under the sun. (And if you really like reading about how to lifehack your books, if you haven't picked up a copy of Anne Fadiman's Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader, do so soon!)

And on a final note, you can now comment on librarian.net. Apres moi le deluge.

*Roger Tory Peterson, A Field Guide to the Birds (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1934): xviii.

I was wondering the other day whether libraries shouldn't start to keep special collections of books meant to be written in. There would be a special shelf for them, when you checked them out there would be a nice pencil or pen to go with, and maybe if you were lavish you'd bind in a few extra blank pages between chapters for extra notes or a pocket in the back to keep note cards.

I've often want to leave behind a note to the next reader, or to see what the previous reader thought of the copy I am about to look at.
I love that idea! User-contributed content needn't just be electronic.
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