Last month Sheila Bounford, a U.K.-based publishing veteran who blogs at "Off the Page Ideas", explored what it is that she values about books. Her list is instructive:
- "expanding horizons;
- unlocking potential;
- exposure to ideas;
- emotional & imaginative journeys;
- expansion of vocabulary;
- delivery of knowledge/ understanding/ insight;
- appreciation of skill (and/or excellence)."
As Bounford notes, "books as objects don’t appear in this list." She goes on to say:
"… that where books are concerned – the value is in the potential and not in the object. It is not what books are that I prize. It is what their contents might be or might unlock or might inspire, in the hands, minds and hearts of readers that makes them culturally and socially so important. And, more crucially, what makes them important to me."
I wholly agree that “potential” (the outcome) trumps the physical object. Sometimes a physical object contains content that can transport you, but it’s the journey, not the object, that matters.