Man is an animal suspended in webs of significance that he himself has spun...

Friday, April 20, 2012

Ted Talk: Chip Kidd - Designing books is no laughing matter. Ok, it is.

Remember books?

Vaguely.  Every since I got my Kindle last year the ratio of electronic books I buy to physical ones is about 20 to 1.  It' so bad that I curse when I see a title I want and the Kindle edition does not exist or I'm not allowed to buy it.  My most recent frustration came yesterday when I tried to purchase a David Sedaris book and discovered that the e-book version is not available to me in Europe.

In this very entertaining and very funny Ted Talk, Chip Kidd was neverthless able to temporarily provoke a bit of nostalgia in me.  He's right, I would look pretty silly sniffing my Ipad/Kindle.  Will I change my habits as a result of his gentle chiding?  No.  OK, I do have a few very precious hardcover books in my library like The American Language (fourth edition) by H.L. Mencken which I bought in a used bookstore in Seattle 20 years ago but my copy was published years before Mr. Kidd was even born.  The other physical books I have are French ones and the covers are very stark - no book designers required.  My most recent purchase was Sanche de Gramont's Les Français: portrait d'un peuple which I think was first published in English many years ago.  But I found a used copy in French at a local store so I went with that one.

But those are the exceptions.  For almost everything else (and especially when I want to do research and find books that are so off the beaten path that you won't find them on bestseller lists anywhere) I look for the electronic version.  I'm sympathetic to Mr. Kidd.  I loved his talk and you should watch because he is a very entertaining and convincing speaker.  But my reaction to his talk reminded me a bit of how I once felt about my 40 year-old Viking (Swedish) sewing machine.  It was a beautiful machine and a real precision instrument.  I used it for many years but it was heavy and every time I hauled it out of the closet I was guaranteed lower back pain for the next couple of days.  I really miss it but these days I have a spiffy new Janome (French) 8077 which is not nearly as pretty but it's light and quiet and has an automatic needle threader and all kinds of bells and whistles that I may actually use one day.  I may feel a twinge of regret when I come across one of the accessories for that old Viking in a closet, but when I actually sew,  I don't miss old that machine one bit.  And when I stuff my Ipad/Kindle into my backpack and I take off for Paris in the morning to read on the train, I don't miss physical books either.




3 comments:

Just Me said...

Since you like David Sedaris, surely you have heard this. Portions of it is played every Christmas on NPR...

Act Two. Santaland Diaries...

http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/47/christmas-and-commerce

Victoria FERAUGE said...

I didn't know that, Just Me. I'm going to put that on my calendar.

Not only is his work just drop dead wonderful but he is one of us. :-) His stories about France made me howl with laughter. I think he's in the UK now. I found this video (quality not so good) of him speaking in australia here
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JdY3q14spdw&feature=related

It's called, "What's funny about America."

Just Me said...

Thanks for the You tube. I am going to watch it in the morning. I love Sedaris. Very late here, and it was a long day. That Santaland Diaries is hysterical. I think you would enjoy it no matter the season.