The compulsion of building libraries — collections of books and the perpetual love of books, more books and books piled high — everywhere.
My daughter, Gabrielle, is the official library Matrix of GIRVIN. Since she’s been working there at our Pike Place Offices and it’s dramatically deepened and grown her understanding that my perennial drive for more content, more ideas, more inspiration still lives
in a foundation
that drives back
decades for me.
The touch, the feeling, the scent, the print, the heft —
the portability, the legacy, their history. They’re live shareable.
it’s not a phone, it’s not a computer, it’s not a screen — it’s paper, made from fibers,
mulberry leaves and trees,
bound in cloth, leather, impressed plastics, shaved vellum, punch-cut woods and specially made flaxen linen threading. It’s a live touch, earth made, and a tradition only about 4400 years old.
Books, and library-building —
what is the drive?
I’m 60 now, and I started when I was 10.
That’s a lot of years and a lot of books.
Everywhere I’ve been, there are libraries that I’ve built.
Pike Place — there are two libraries; Spokane — another, now mostly transited to other locations;
I was one of the early buyers and list-builders for
the Evergreen State College Library.
I built libraries at
our former Madison Park / Flatiron offices in NYC, Queen Anne and Decatur Island.
What could that be, who thinks like that — buying books as a journey?
You do, and why?
What’s your telling, your relationship to books?
None? Or many?
like poet and novelist Louise Erdich — she’s just one year younger than I.
You can learn about her here.
She says, of books — “We have a lot of books in our house.
They are our primary decorative motif—books in piles on the coffee table, framed book covers, books sorted into stacks on every available surface, and of course books on shelves along most walls. Besides the visible books, there are the boxes waiting in the wings, the basement books, the garage books, the storage locker books. They are a sort of insulation, soundproofing some walls. They function as furniture, they prop up sagging fixtures and disguised by quilts function as tables. The quantities and types of books are fluid, arriving like hysterical cousins in overnight shipping envelopes only to languish near the overflowing mail bench. Advance Reading Copies collect at beside, to be dutifully examined—to ignore them and read Henry James or Barbara Pym instead becomes a guilty pleasure. I can’t imagine home without an overflow of books. The point of books is to have way too many but to always feel you never have enough, or the right one at the right moment, but then sometimes to find you’d longed to fall asleep reading The Aspern Papers, and there it is.”
Books talk — and take you — someplace different. Libraries are mystical storms of words, whorled in thousands of bound tablets, books — magical spells taking the reader to some other place — far and deep. In my earlier days of talking to Microsoft Tablet UI theorist, Bill Hill — since passed, or my earlier days hanging in the UK, around stonecutter Kindersley and the Rampant Lion’s print shop, with the Carter’s — or my Alphabet Odyssey in Europe and Russia, with Hermann Zapf in Darmstadt, Dr. Hans Halbey, at the Klingspor, Offenbach Am Main, off Frankfurt — I’ve studied the craft and engaged in the work of designing books, thinking about their journey, and mine, in their co-mingled pathways. The thinking way that they draw us all — off someplace different that Kindleized iPads or apps on our working screens.
Honestly, I do both —
digital and print.
But the book shall be a forever compulsion.
Read on —