Books are not dead. Not only are they being read, they can also be eaten.
Delicious proof of this can be found at the Edible Book Festival this weekend. Sort of lends a whole new meaning to the phrase "eat your words" doesn't it? Hit the Small Press Book Fair next weekend to be overwhelmed by thousands of print books, 'zines, broadsides and more, many written and printed locally.
April is National Poetry Month, billed as the largest literary celebration in the world. April 2 is International Children's Book Day, timed to coincide with Hans Christian Anderson's birthday. And April 10-16 is National Library Week. As a librarian turned journalist, author turned publisher, April is just a few steps short of heaven for me.
And then there's the vinyl comeback. Back-to-back record events this weekend: Vinyl Mania on Saturday and Buffalo's Record Pop Culture Expo on Sunday, are followed by Record Store Day on April 16. Really? A national event celebrating a format written off as dead.
The parallels between the survival of print and the revival of vinyl is illustrated by Jim Santella's presence at Buffalo's Record Pop Culture Expo on Sunday, April 3. He will be reminiscing about the heyday of vinyl and signing copies of his progressive rock memoir Classic Rock, Classic Jock. A print book reveling in records.
I love music, but I am a book person. My love for the heft of a book and the act of turning the pages helps me understand the return of records. Placing the vinyl disk on a turn table, carefully lowering the needle, watching the grooves emit sound. It is tactile, like books. I hear the sounds of the words in my head as I read. I cannot leave music in the background; it occupies my brain like words on the page. Both sing in their own ways.
I taught myself to read before I turned four because my father told me this was a prerequiste for being accepted by the Studio Arena Theatre School. I found refuge from a tumultuous home life by climbing inside the covers of Bobbsey Twins tales. I chewed through the entire children's collection at the Fairfield Branch Library before I turned nine. I read Crime and Punishment in fourth grade at Campus School, foregoing the multiplication tables. The library was my sanctuary. I dreamed of camping out there nights, reading until my eyes burned. Of never going home.
I started working at the East Delevan Branch Library when I was eleven. Could that have been legal? I took my job as a page very seriously. I also worked in the library at Mount Saint Joe's in my black uniform and little white collar and cuffs, and then at the Poetry Room in UB's South Campus Lockwood Library. The only logical graduate degree to pursue with my BA/BS in Literature/Linguistics (back in the day when double majors were the norm) was a masters in Library and Information Science.
By the time I started as assistant director of the Library at the Universidad de Los Andes in Bogotá, Colombia in 1974, I had nearly a decade of library experience. I was not yet old enough to drink and barely old enough to vote. I retired and reivented myself as a journalist at the age of 26.
I have written seven books and published several dozen more written by others. I founded New Idea Press in Colorado in the 1980s, and turned Canisius College Press into Buffalo Heritage Press in 2006. So books really are in my blood.
Which makes me feel very much at home now that I am back in Buffalo. Known as a beer-drinking, sports-driven, snow-covered city, I find Buffalo to be remarkably literary. A fine feeling as April ushers in National Poetry Month, National Library Week and International Children's Book Day. I love April!
I am proud to have published more than half a dozen exquisite children's books during my tenure at the helm of Buffalo Heritage Press. The most international of these is From Finland to Niagara Falls, a translation from the Finnish of the story of Per Kalm, the first scientist to see and document Niagara Falls. In 1749. Benjamin Franklin published his reports, and I published this little known piece of regional history as an illustrated history book for the young and the curious of all ages.
I will have a sweet selection of my children's books, including From Finland to Niagara Falls, and my food-centric books at the Edible Book Festival at WNYBAC on Sunday, April 3. The entire line of more than 50 Buffalo Heritage Press beautiful books about Buffalo and by Buffalo authors will be available at the Small Press Book Fair at Karpeles on Saturday and Sunday, April 9 &10.
How will you celebrate International Children's Book Day this weekend? How about finding a child to read to? It's pure magic to snuggle into a chair and read a good book together.