Regular readers will remember my accounts of my problems storing oversize books, which I talked about when I discovered that unfinished furniture stores are the place to buy odd-sized bookshelves. Actually, they're the place to buy bookshelves period—they have many styles, several woods, and can be built to order. And while not cheap, they're not expensive either. I mentioned that I had ordered one, and I told you I'd report back when I got it.
Well, it finally arrived last night—the owner of the store and I carried it up the walk last night and "walked" it into place across the living room floor. I was able to specify all the measurements myself, so I designed a case specifically for oversized photography books. The top section is a generous 13" deep, and the bottom section a whopping 17" deep. I sized it for only five shelves, so all of them have plenty of height—the tallest clears 19". The glass doors are to protect the books from dust.
Finally, a a place to keep even my biggest book, an acquisition from last year—Todd Hido's House Hunting, which is 13 1/2" x 16 7/8". That's bigger than it sounds (camera included for scale). This is one of my favorite purchases of last year, by the way. The second printing was published in 2007, and has just gone out of print, although there are still a few new copies available here and there. You can see some of the work from it here (under Photographs > Homes at night), although the huge reproductions in the book are a much better way to see the pictures. I really like the book, but had no place to put it. It had been laying flat on top of one of the tall cases, collecting dust.
And here's a tough one for any sort of bookshelves—Pentti Sammallahti's gorgeous book of panoramic photographs, limited to 1,000 slipcased copies, from 2002 (out of print, and getting pretty expensive. Although it wasn't cheap new). Not tall, but 17" wide.
It actually barely fits! I might end up storing it vertically. I love this book, too—Pentti's photographs are just gorgeous.
The amazing spontaneously-destructing photography book
Moving books around is an opportunity to reacquaint with some old friends (hullo, Virginia), and in some cases to cull the herd a bit, too. One weird thing I ran across was a book I haven't touched in a while, Camera Portraits, published by Oxford, from a National Portrait Gallery (London) exhibit. I noticed that the text block (the stack of pages) was flush with the lower edge of the binding. Then I noticed that the top of the text block was overlapped by the binding at the top by a good three-eighths of an inch, which is too much. Then I noticed the front endpaper had come detached. Then....
...Well, amazingly, what happened was that the weight of the pages made the whole text block fall out of the book's case binding! It happened just sitting on the shelf, not from handling or being moved or anything else—the last time I handled this book I'm sure it was sound. Just the book's own weight was enough to make it self-destruct. Can't say I've ever seen this happen before. Books aren't made like they used to be, for the most part, but that's what you call a badly-made book.
So now I have to decide whether to get it repaired, or just toss it. I have a feeling I know the answer to that.
At any rate, I'm going to be enjoying filling up the new bookcase with books today. And with 15 running feet of new shelf space, it's sure to relieve the overcrowding problem on the rest of the shelves in the house.
...For a few months at least.
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Original contents copyright 2010 by Michael C. Johnston and/or the bylined author. All Rights Reserved.