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How to use printed books in the digital age
April 30, 2012 6:56 AM   Subscribe

Ten gorgeous buildings made out of books. More views of some of them: Scanner — Book iglooTower of BabelCadiff/MillerArgument (with other book structures). Want to build your own? Order books by the yard from various outlets, some quite pricy, others more affordable: BookDecor, Half Price Books Outlet.
posted by beagle (20 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
I find it offensive to use books in a manner destroys their purpose of being read. It isn't much better than burning them.

The phone book house is the big exception because old phone books are worthless.
posted by patrick54 at 7:04 AM on April 30, 2012 [4 favorites]


Hey, don't forget this one.
posted by Blue_Villain at 7:07 AM on April 30, 2012


The phone book house is the big exception because old phone books are worthless.

What's this thing you call a "phone book"?

Is it that new iPhone/MacBook hybrid I've been hearing rumors about?
posted by fairmettle at 7:11 AM on April 30, 2012 [3 favorites]


The book igloo reminded me of nothing so much as the pictures from Operation Sailor Hat, my favourite non-nuclear weapons test.
posted by zamboni at 7:15 AM on April 30, 2012


> I find it offensive to use books in a manner destroys their purpose of being read. It isn't much better than burning them.

On one hand, I agree with you. On the other, I process donations at the public library I work at and I could build a replica of the Empire State Building with all the books people are disposing of these days. Might as well make some nice art out of them instead of pitching them into landfills, which is where most of them are destined to wind up.
posted by The Card Cheat at 7:27 AM on April 30, 2012 [3 favorites]


I feel misled because I expected these to be actual buildings and not sculptures and forts.
posted by nooneyouknow at 7:44 AM on April 30, 2012


> What's this thing you call a "phone book"?

It's this big-ass reference thing that goes directly from the front porch to the recycle bin.

Anyway, this reminds me of a rich radiologist who had a custom set of bound classics made to match one of his spiral staircases in his giant house that he never spends any time reading in.
posted by Burhanistan at 7:49 AM on April 30, 2012


I feel misled because I expected these to be actual buildings and not sculptures and forts.

Hm - is there any way you could varnish the outside or otherwise render one of these structures passably weatherproof without making it unrecognisable?

Or maybe you could cover it with shingles made out of plastic bottles.
posted by Segundus at 7:53 AM on April 30, 2012


AD 2112 holonews headline: "How to use physical devices in the holographic age"
posted by Celsius1414 at 8:04 AM on April 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


But you can't read them! What good is a damn book fort if you can't read the books!?
posted by Turkey Glue at 8:10 AM on April 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


This makes me sad.
posted by Wordwoman at 8:31 AM on April 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


Interesting. These put me sufficiently in mind of Castle Doors from Walking On Glass to make me slightly uncomfortable, and even without that association there's something about so much information being encoded in the structure of a building that I'd find slightly oppressive, if I started in the right (wrong?) mood.

I'm sure I'm in good company here when I say that I can't get over my fetishisation of books, no mater how hard I try. I know they're just objects and, with very few exceptions, there's no reason why any given copy of a book should have sentimental value for me. But despite having bought several with the express purpose of using them as a raw material in craft projects, I just can't bring myself to damage them. For a lot of academic types, I suppose it's a nice reminder that we're nowhere near as rational as we'd sometimes like to think.
posted by metaBugs at 9:06 AM on April 30, 2012


From the BookDecor page (emphasis mine):

The adage "do not judge a book by its cover" does not apply at Books Décor. Here, we ask that you disregard the quality of the text in favor of our books' outer beauty. Home libraries are often more about decorative splendor than they are functionality.

...that's kind of bumming me out.
posted by Doleful Creature at 9:17 AM on April 30, 2012 [3 favorites]


I find it offensive to use books in a manner destroys their purpose of being read. It isn't much better than burning them.

That strikes me as a little precious. Book burning is offensive because it's a symbol of a real attempt to keep the information contained in the books unavailable to people at large. No one who has worked in a library or who even makes a casual habit of browsing second hand bookstores is under any illusion about the inherent value of every single printed copy of every book ever published. There are plenty of books--even some which are quite old--which essentially nobody wants. These are the books that are being offered for 5 cents a piece on a stand outside the crappiest second hand bookstore in town. Using those books to make art with doesn't make the information they contain unavailable to others; it doesn't take a book away from someone who would otherwise read it.

It's like people who complain about artists who use meat or some other foodstuff--as if they ripped it out of the hands of a starving person to use for their art project. It's a fundamental misunderstanding of the economic conditions that cause food insecurity--which has nothing at all to do with a limited supply of food. Oddly, you never seem to see people lamenting that an artist wasted money on oil paints or marble that they could have spent on relieving hunger (or buying books for the poor).
posted by yoink at 9:23 AM on April 30, 2012 [3 favorites]


The librarian in me loves seeing beautifully crafted sculptures with the materials that line the walls of my world.
posted by Lola_K at 9:40 AM on April 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


The kids' fort seems like a totally do-able weekend project. Especially since my kids have rooms (plural) full of books they ignore insisting on reading the same three Curious Georges over and over and over and over and over and over and over.....
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 10:02 AM on April 30, 2012


OMG OMG OMG you guys, why didn't anyone tell me when I ran out of storage space and got rid of a bunch of books that I could have just made myself a cool book igloo fort for reading books in instead?! I am SO kicking myself now.

I love books, too. I've read...has to be thousands by now. I've always been both a speedy and voracious reader; there is no reason I couldn't keep and read many of my very favorite hardcovers, and still have enough books left over to build myself an awesome book-reading fort. I have digital copies of many of them on my iPad already, so I don't see a problem here.

Plus, you can motivate others to read more!

What you do is, you invite people over to read their favorite books in digital format while surrounded by the lovely haunting enclosure made entirely of said books in their original dead-tree format.

Ooh, you know what would be even better?! If somehow you could construct your book fort so that it is possible to remove one book and speedily replace it with another of equal size, without damaging the structural integrity. Then you have a recyclable book fort that is ALSO a Life-Sized Jenga Tower o'Fun to play with!

In fact, the only issue I have with this is the silly mindset from the BookDecor site Doleful_Creature quoted; if I WERE to build an igloo book fort*, it would be made up of my very favorite books, not random works I had no emotional connection to that just happened to look pretty.

*And the only obstacle preventing this right now as I see it is my conservative spouse's predictable reaction opposing book-based architecture without even giving it a try before making up his mind. Harrumph.
posted by misha at 10:03 AM on April 30, 2012


Also, this, from the Tower of Babel link, is an awesome idea: The tower is due to be dismantled on 28 May, when literary enthusiasts will be invited to pick one book each. The remaining books will begin an archive called The Library of Babel, after the Jorge Luis Borges short story.
posted by misha at 10:06 AM on April 30, 2012


Also, this, from the Tower of Babel link, is an awesome idea: The tower is due to be dismantled on 28 May, when literary enthusiasts will be invited to pick one book each.

And thus was the worst Jenga disaster in world history begun.
posted by Celsius1414 at 11:43 AM on April 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


As I vaguely recall, there was an excellent big stacked-old-books igloo/yurt installation in a massive Wade Street Toronto warehouse group show years ago...
posted by ovvl at 6:40 PM on April 30, 2012


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