My Kindle conversion is incomplete. I’m still trudging through The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (my choice of verb reflects the writing more than the digital experience), but I only made it through two Saturdays of downloading the Weekend FT before returning to the pink printed page. Dividing up the sections with husband for consumption over lunch at the farm shop only works in analog form. And I proved to myself today that the allure of paper still extends to books when I wondered into a second hand book shop in Cheltenham to kill time while husband shopped for Blu-Rays.
I was drawn in by the well curated shelf facing the sidewalk, tempting me with Ian McEwan and Jonathan Safran Foer and Patrick Gale. In the end I sprang for the 1949 Gloucestershire edition of The Little Guides. How could I not? I was taken in by the back cover which informed me that The Little Guides were banned from publication in 1940 for reasons of national security. And that was before I noticed that the tattered cover features a print of our Cotswold town, captured from the vantage point of the hill behind our house looking down over our curved lane and the clock tower side of the church. I know the vista well—there’s a bench at the top of the hill today that makes it a good spot to sit and gaze. Apart from the missing primary school, little has changed in the last sixty years. Even the text still applies. The description of our town starts with, “…a good place with good stone buildings dating from medieval times to early 19th cent. The later buildings are not so happy,” as if prescient of the 1980s developments that would eventually bookend the town.
Attached to the back cover is a fold out map in perfect condition save for one tear at the seam. Here one major change to the Cotswolds is marked out by black squares, indicating railway stations in nearby Cirencester and Chedworth and Withington that are long gone. One day books may go the way of the railroads courtesy of Amazon and Google and Apple, but for now I’m still capable of being smitten with the printed page.