Saturday, April 14, 2012

Love the Margins

I live in a northern suburb of Brisbane. It's pleasant but unremarkable - certainly no haunt of the 'social elite' or 'social climbers'. They only drive through when they're lost. In a quiet back-street there's a block of 6 small run-down shops, and you'd have to think that the rents are mighty cheap for them to make any profit. I don't know how the secondhand book shop remains open - you hardly ever see anyone in there. Their moudering collection is quite extensive - Mills and Boon, food splattered recipe books from the 1960's and craft books with faded pictures that are well past tempting anyone to make macrame owls from string and beads. But seeing they were having a  30% off sale, well, one has to do one's bit to aid the locals.

Imagine my surprise when I found ...da, da...

Yes, it's a first edition of Swinburne's poems about children, 'The Springtide of Life', illustrated by Arthur Rackham and published in 1918!

Now, I have to admit that I don't find the poems so wonderful I will read them time and time again, and though I do like these pictures by Rackham that I have posted, he produced many more illustrations in other books that I would prefer to own. But what about the margins! Don't you love them?

Book designers are incredibly important in helping to produce books that sell.

To me, the way a book opens, its margins, the size and style of the print and spacing between lines, quality of paper and its thickness in relation to the page size - all are integral in creating a book that one 'just has to own'.
I love this book!

Peter Taylor


June said...

You have found a small treasure. To hold it is to add to its memory all those who have owned it, and turned the pages to enjoy the poems, the illustrations, and the space they so beautifully occupy.

What a wonderful find.

And like you, I appreciate the wide margins that let the book's contents breathe.

Peter Taylor - Author and Illustrator said...

Many thanks, June. I love the idea of 'adding to its memory'.

The shop owners were aware of what they were selling and it was priced accordingly (though fairly, because it is not pristine, and the sale discount helped - but I did go back several times for more looks at it before making a decision). Years ago, however, I did pay $5 in an antique shop for a vellum page from an antiphonal scribed in the 1500's. I asked if they had any more pages like it and they brought out some Victorian sheet music which they thought was the same vintage.