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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.


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...

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

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.