Members of New Club Are On Same
They Love Books
(June 7, 2000)
to Aldus Society In the News
Bill Eichenberger, Dispatch Book Critic
Columbus’ new Aldus Society has an
immodest goal — to save The Book from impending extinction.
Geoff Smith, head of rare books and manuscripts for Ohio State University’s
libraries, said books are, not for the first time, in jeopardy.
the end of the 19th century, bibliophilic clubs were formed because books were
being made very cheaply,” he said. “Now we’re being told that the book is
dead, that technology has supplanted books. The existence of the book itself is
in question. So I’d say we’re coming along just in time.”
in time, Smith said, to celebrate and commemorate the book, not only for its
content, but for its beauty.
society was named after 15th-century Italian printer Aldus Manutius (1450-1515),
who is credited with developing italic type and with publishing well-crafted but
you have an appreciation of beauty, well, to me, the book is a very beautiful
thing,” said Marcia Preston, the group’s program director. “I don’t
think a computer screen is at all beautiful.”
to its “statement of purpose,” the Aldus Society
hopes to foster “interest in the historical, aesthetic, physical and cultural
aspects of books, manuscripts and other original textual and graphic
19th-century decline of the book arts was a catalyst for the formation of
several book clubs, including the Grolier Club of New York, the Caxton Club of
Chicago and the Rowfant Club of Cleveland.
than a century after their formation, in 1999, these clubs and many others
established the Fellowship of American Bibliophilic Societies, which recently
welcomed the Aldus Society.
Holzenberg — director and librarian of the Grolier Club, which was established
in 1884 — said new clubs play an important role promoting a love of books.
like the Aldus Society are absolutely essential to
the larger movement appreciating the book as object, the book as history. The
more of these clubs that develop, the more robust is the movement as a whole,”
the 19th century, there was a perceived threat to the book arts. Now as then,
the threat is galvanizing a lot of interest, a lot of discussion. The fact that
there’s enough interest in the Midwest to found another book club is a very
interesting and encouraging development.”
recent gathering, Smith, Preston, treasurer Jay Hoster and secretary Genie
Hoster described the possibilities for programming as “infinite.”
H. Jackson, one of America’s foremost collectors of Victorian literature and
beat-generation literature, spoke at the Aldus Society’s inaugural meeting
than 40 of the 70 members attended.
think there is a hunger in us (book lovers),” Preston said. “For so long,
I’ve had almost no one to talk to about books.”
under consideration for programs include: calligraphy and the history of scripts
before the printing press; a history of illustrated books; collecting
children’s books; collecting Mark Twain or James Thurber; how the Internet has
affected book collecting; the history of women’s roles in printing; and early
printing in Ohio.
lovers can learn much from one another, Jay Hoster said; the Hosters own Books
those books from the late 19th century we were talking about? We see a lot of
those books. People bring them in and, well, they’re old, so they must be
valuable,” he said, smiling.
we’ll open up the book and pages will fall out. And they’re brittle, a thick
version of newsprint. It was a cheap book when it was made, and now it’s an
old, dilapidated cheap book.”
printed on computers don’t interest the Aldus Society
for the same reason -- inferior quality.
can see the ink bleeding through from one side of the page to the other,”
Genie Hoster said. “These are not books made for the ages.”
eBook -- or electronic book -- and similar products also leave the bibliophile
unimpressed. Holzenberg said traditional books have at least one advantage.
you put a paperback on the floor and jump up and down on it or heave it as hard
as you can against a wall, you still have a book. Do that with an electronic
book, you have a mess.”
also expressed the bibliophile’s concern about the “integrity of the
expect the text of a book to be the same week after week, year after year. But
if a book is centrally located, in a computer, it would be relatively easy to
hack into it and make unauthorized changes,” Holzenberg said.
Smith: “Membership in the Aldus Society can lead
to security of mind and of soul.”
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