A supply of books on the bed, and an iPad to hand - what more could be wished for? Probably not much, and certainly not to quite the level of heaven that Sydney Smith enjoyed, though I do enjoy foie gras, but I'm afraid I slept through most of it. During my more
A couple of weeks ago in my post Rapture and End-Times, I discussed what I see as the likely online present and future of magazines and books. In my last post I wrote that I would, because of its timely connection with what I had written, like to discuss this New York Times article about four online interior design magazines' thriving present.
The four are Lonny, Rue, High Gloss and Matchbook. That they are thriving is good news, and that they are positioned solely towards twenty-something females with little disposable income is, to my mind, undeniable. I question whether this positioning is entirely a good thing for only too soon will that group find itself the forty- or fifty-somethings and I wonder if the format, heavily reliant on advertorial and the worshipful prose of celebzines, is viable enough to grow or change with its targeted demographic? Or will there perhaps be new cohorts of twenty-somethings following behind to take their place? But perhaps that is not the point, for it occurs to me that such narrowly-targeted magazines may not be designed for the long-term - and are ephemeral, perhaps, as anything in the world of fashion.
That these magazines do not include me by gender, age, income, interest or scope is not a matter of particular concern. Their value to me, whether here today or gone tomorrow, is that I do not pay for them and I can dip in occasionally – very occasionally – without any thought of disposing of yet another pile of coated, printed, polluting paper.
On the subject of physical magazines: a couple of days ago I received a communication in which I was thanked for choosing to be part of a magazine's Continuous Service Renewal and as I'd recently been notified, my renewal has been processed and payment was now due.
I'm not really sure I chose to be part of the Continuous Service Program and I'm pretty sure I did not receive any such renewal processing notification and, now I look for it, neither can I find a telephone number to call to ask a customer service representative precisely when my subscription actually ends. Over the last few months I've found this magazine increasingly uninteresting - pretty much the same reaction I have to the four online magazines mentioned above and generally speaking for the same reasons - and had decided not to renew and to find I've chosen, unbeknownst to me, to renew my subscription really does make me even more determined not to enclose my check and return it with the invoice in the pre-addressed envelope.
So, back to where I began, in a library with the past and looking towards the future. A few days ago, I bought my first iBook, William Shawcross' Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother: The Official Biography – and I am totally sold on e-publication. I fully expect my e-library to grow rapidly if there are enough e-books to satisfy my predilection for history and biography. Biography, by the way, is a genre I have come to appreciate only in recent years – and I'm still surprised that I do, given that I'm not overly interested in the inner lives of anyone, however salacious or celebrated. As I wrote that I glanced at my bookshelves and to my astonishment found many a biography - Billy Baldwin; Catherine of Aragon; Edmund White; John Adams; Elizabeth I; Louis XIV; Mrs Henry Parish; Brooke Astor; Alan Bennett; George, Nicholas and Wilhelm; David Hockney; Nigel Slater; Elizabeth David - to name but fifteen and to say nothing of the monographs about artists, architects and interior designers inhabiting the shelves. Ah well, such is self-delusion!
Real estate, or square footage, is not something one has to consider with e-publishing. Our household is long beyond the point at which we should have stopped buying books and I have considered buying an additional bookcase – a long, low one for the living room – but have yet to find anything that would, aesthetically speaking, fit. Not being one for stacks of books by chairs, under plant pots or vases, or even stacked as decoration on tables, I have decided to edit - take out and dispose of those books neither of us actually has any more interest in. I have begun with the vanity-publishing - decorator monographs of interchangeable interiors and egotism. Some of these are now for sale on Amazon Marketplace. We'll see how they fare.
The room above is Emilio Terry's library of books and musical scores for Jean de Polignac, photographed by Robert Doisneau for Les réussites de la décoration française, 1950 - 1960, Collection Maison et Jardin, Condé Nast S.A. Editions de Pont Royal, 1960
P.S. One of the more interesting aspects of looking at interiors is the art to be found in them - for example, the Edouard Vuillard portrait of Jean de Polignac - a subject for future posts, I'm certain.