Mary Medlicott, Storyteller and Author - Storyworks

Storytelling Starters ~ Why books?

Depressing news came this week. Gomer Press is closing its publishing operation so far as general books are concerned. In future, it’s going to concentrate on what can be described as fine books or art books. The news is sad for me personally. Gomer published one of my father’s books, Twice to St David’s, and it has published several of mine  – Open Secret, Elephant Luck and Shemi’s Tall Tales. But there’s a bigger sadness behind the news. Gomer has been Wales’s biggest independent publisher. Closure of its general publishing enterprise raises several important questions. It’s an important cultural outlet. Who will take on the kind of work it has been doing?

But behind that immediate question lies another bigger one. Are books going out of fashion? Is the need for books diminishing? Of course, the internet has changed things. But there are many, many people (including me!) who would insist that books are essential. Books are vital conveyors of ideas, knowledge and story. To hold one in your hand becomes such a deep pleasure that, for anyone who loves books and sees their value, the idea of doing without them is both alarming and shameful.

If I had to try and crystallise why physical books are so important, I think it’s to do with the fact of the actual book being something so immediately available and long-lasting. You can hold it. You can have it by your bedside or on your table. If you choose (which I never do), you can underline things in it or make a note about it on a blank page at the front. You can place it where you please in your big or small collection of books. You don’t have to turn on any machine in order to be able to look it up. A book is right there (although sometimes you do have to search for it before it’s right there). You can riffle through it. You can give it as a present. You can make notes about it in your Book Journal (which I do). Even if you can’t remember who wrote it or its title, you can remember its size and shape and the colour of its cover. You can value it over your whole life.

And even as I write this, I’ve just remembered a little verse about what a book can represent which I once wrote down in the now very worn green notebook where I keep notes about books and stories.

A ship is a breath of romance
That carries us miles away:
And a Book is a ship of fancy
That could sail on any day.

Long live books. Long live the awareness of why they are important.

PS: So I must stand by my own books.  You can purchase copies from my website. The covers of three of them are pictured here.

 

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