On “bookishness” and the book biz

This concept of “bookishness” is sort of weird to me. I suppose I get it. I mean, I have thousands of books on the shelves around me right now, but the idea of having a throw pillow celebrating reading is sort of weird to me. Feels like it’s just over-compensating for something, like the intellectual version of a Dodge Viper bought and displayed to show everyone how you identify (as in a midlife crisis). But apparently it’s a good thing to encourage in regular folk, because regular folk stuff seeps into celebrity culture and that feeds back to regular folk. So it does affect the nature of the bidnez, I guess.

Bookishness describes a person’s interest in maintaining nearness to books. It is a term derived from bookish, which is a label often applied to people who read a lot. “This is what I describe as creative acts that engage the physicality of the book within a digital culture, in modes that may be sentimental, fetishistic, radical,” Pressman said. It could mean anything from decorative pillows with quotes from Jane Austen or a studded designer jacket with Harry Potter’s face turned punk. Maybe a person decides to color-code their bookshelves, or maybe they embroider lines from poems. It’s all part of the phenomenon of bookishness.

Bookishness is a part of digital culture, but how is bookishness best reflected in readers and the publishing industry? “One of the biggest things for a single book can be a major celebrity posting about it on social media,” said Morgan Hoit, associate marketing manager of Avid Reader Press. From Oprah’s Book Club to Reese’s Book Club to Sarah Jessica Parker’s Book Club Central, a book club with a major public figure’s stamp of approval has major effects both on sales and on the cultural response to a book.

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