As part of the ongoing re-calibration of my online-offline existence, I’m writing more letters (old fashioned snail-mail letters that is), for three chief reasons:
- Who doesn’t love getting something that isn’t a bill in the post?
- Real mail of the non-nasty-shock variety (parking fines, bills, college fees) is now so nearly as rare as hen’s teeth it has gained a gravitas email lacks;
- If we don’t use the postal service it will go. And whilst it may not be as fast as the Internet, I’m pretty sure we’ll miss it when its gone.
Not only is this endeavour making me rediscover my fine motor skills (how did my handwriting get SO bad?), but, with the aid of a recent bookstore purchase, it’s turning out to be enormous fun. But that’s because the purchase in question is Postcards from Penguin: a box of one hundred post cards each one a reproduction of a classic Penguin cover. I’ve been using them instead of compliment slips, with short handwritten notes on the back. Today I had to send some signed accounts to an auditor (part of the wrap-up from my pre-Off the Page Ideas life). I spent ten minutes suppressing giggles and fighting the urge to write my note to the accountant on the reverse of the jacket of Edna O’Brien’s August is a Wicked Month. Eventually (and probably fortunately) the subversive in me decided to stay deeper hidden as I settled for Cakes & Ale.
Every time I riffle through the selection in search of my next card, I have the joint pleasure of remembering where I was and what I was thinking when I read many of the books included in the collection, and of speculating on who I’m going to send the next one to. This morning I discovered The Case of the Careless Kitten, a must for my friend Anne Beech at Pluto Press following the recent exploits of the new felines in her life and The Penguin Knitting Book, which has to go to data guru (and yarn lover) @ljndawson. The Body In the Library should accompany a missive on the parlous state of library funding in the UK to Ed Vaizey MP and his colleagues at the Department for Culture Media and Sport (though I’ll wait until the Olympics are done and dusted).
These cards have been reminding me of many of the reasons why I love books and bookshops, so thanks Penguin – not only for generations of iconic design, but for having the wit to bring out this collection as postcards (not to mention mugs). Anyone who spends time thinking about the value of books might enjoy this post, I discovered via Twitter on Techcrunch today http://techcrunch.com/2012/07/29/jeff-bezos-a-blonde-and-a-book-walk-into-a-bar-part-i/. I so hope this doesn’t turn out to be an apocryphal story.
Meanwhile, I’m off to pen a billet doux on the back of August is a Wicked Month. But I’m not telling you who it’s going to.