Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Eat your words!

First it was interior designers using books as silly decorations—never intended to be read—and now this: a restaurant with walls built of paperback books. Gah! How would the restaurant biz feel if I went and built a bookstore out of perfectly seared slabs of bluefin tuna or filled my (imaginary) swimming pool with truffle oil? Now that I think of it, this is starting to sound less like revenge, and more like yuppie Hansel and Gretel....

1 comment:

  1. I actually think it's admirable for people to reuse recycled books in inventive ways like this. When bookstores have paperbacks that don't sell (or a new month of Harlequins come out and the others must be removed), they remove the covers to send back to publishers, then recycle the rest of the book. A lot of people get up in arms about this, but the truth of the matter is that many books are printed far beyond their demand and will never be purchased. The popular argument is, "But someone could READ that," which to an extent is true, but if you were a bookstore CEO or publishing director, would you want 20,000 copies of "The Sexy Fireman's Unwed Pregnant Lover's Secret Passion" taking up space on your stores' shelves?

    The same thing happens in libraries; when something is no longer in circulating condition, it is discarded. Granted, many of these books are sent to be resold at library sales, but then there are also tons of books that are damaged beyond repair, missing huge chunks of pages, water-damaged, burned, etc., making them unreadable, much less unsaleable. If we kept EVERYTHING, our shelves would be full of outdated, damaged, disgusting, unpopular tripe, and we there would be no room for new titles.

    Certainly, it would be another situaton if Bouley had bought thousands of copies of readable books, but the article clearly states that his materials were recycled, so your analogy isn't valid. Perfectly seared bluefin tuna and truffle oil are in high demand among restaurateurs, but the books he is using are not in demand, and likely not even readable.

    Bookstores and libraries by necessity must get rid of hundreds of paperbacks a year, so I applaud anyone who chooses to repurpose them to make something new. Think of it this way--those books will be recycled either way. We can either send them to recycling centers, or, like Bouley, we can use them to create breathtaking works of art that celebrate the book as object.