The Beauty of Books

This past weekend we happened upon an article in The Guardian that resonated with us and reiterated why we are in the business of making books. “How Real Books Have Trumped E-Books,” written by award-winning author and journalist Alex Preston, speaks to everything we mean with our company tagline here at Cameron + Company: “Books that need to be books.” Preston details how “the digital revolution was expected to kill traditional publishing. But print books are ever more beautifully designed and lovingly cherished.” Needless to say, we were heartened and gratified by this assessment of the renewed spirit of book publishing.

Though there have been many benefits of e-books. They have been able to facilitate the distribution of uncommon and rare books that may be out of print. In addition, the procurement of e-books can circumvent import and censorship laws if one uses a site like -allowing them to acquire books that have been banned in their country due to political, historical, or otherwise marginalized content. E-books can also use word searches, chapter indexes, and text formatting which makes it easier for people with reading disabilities to enjoy literature.

E-book sales undoubtedly threatened print for a time, there has been a resurgence of hardback sales as of late, with readers seeking and appreciating tangible books that are lovingly designed and produced. Walk into any bookstore these days and you are met with gorgeous book covers (they say you can’t judge a book by its cover, but you know we do), and a broad array of exquisite details such as beautiful endpapers, gilded edges, and even embossed titles. You just can’t experience these kinds of unique textures and colors on a Kindle-you can’t physically interact with a book through a screen.

In this digital age, we yearn for moments away from the many screens that are now such a large part of our everyday lives. Whether subconsciously or consciously, we seek elements of touch and sight that have been missing, that have become too few and far between. After all, isn’t life about experiencing all that there is to offer-to touch, taste, see, smell, and listen? The flatness of a screen simply does not inspire the use of our senses.

On the other end of the spectrum, Preston notes that there’s a worry “that books are becoming luxury objects, status symbols, decorations rather than sources of inspiration, erudition, and imaginative escape.” But to that we say: why can’t a book be inspiring both inside and out? And Preston seems to agree, recognizing that “there has long been a link between beauty and learning.”

Whether this resurgence in quality book-making is just a temporary trend or a permanent return, Preston says, “we should all be celebrating the work of the designers and publishers who have responded to the gauntlet thrown down by ebooks with such aplomb.

“We should also recognise that the most beautiful books of the last few years have also been some of the most brilliant and inspired. The care and attention lavished on those intricately illuminated medieval volumes said something important about what was written inside them, the value of the words within, and this is no less true today.”

We are inclined to agree. We are humbled to be a part of this movement, and this renewed appreciation for what we do every day invigorates us and our intent. So what exactly do we mean when we say we make “Books that need to be books”? In the words of our publisher, “To us, there is a place in today’s media-driven culture for the printed word and the print design that goes along with it. We seek out those books that need to be held, and appreciated for their tangible value. The books call to us to be just that, books.”