|"I'm a bibliophile / and I also know what that means" - Even Hoshen|
Hebrew Book Week or HBW (Hebrew site) is... awesome. Once a year, for a week and a half, my book-loving self finally gets to drag the others around me into the insanity of book-buying. There's nothing quite like it. A normally literate but unenthusiastic country turns into a gushing bibliophile within a few hours. Advertisements for the two leading bookstore chains line the bus stops. Signs point to the nearest fairground. Almost everyone in the street carries a plastic bag from either the bookstores or the publishers.
|Instead of buying books, I collected catalogs|
This is, of course, a bizarre and unheard of notion. What's the point, one might ask, of a week and a half of book fairs and sales (3 for the price of 2! Buy 1 get 2 free! Buy 2 get 2 free! All books half price!*) if I didn't buy anything now?
I recently read an article about HBW that asked how relevant it is now that the bookstores offer year-round sales and deals (in response to a statistic that showed that only** 44% of Israelis plan to attend the events). My answer is simple: you don't go to HBW just to get cheap books. You go for the experience. You go for the crick in your neck from bending down to stare at so many books. You go to chat up the teens and adults who try to push you the popular bestsellers but after a few moments break down and recommend the really good books. You go to see authors signing books one minute and patiently listening to their kids' excited gush about a book they just discovered the next. You go for the joy of finding like-minded folk - people who love books, love literature and love this culture of reading we're working so hard to maintain.
|"Reserved for HBW 2011" ad as mentioned here|
Only after all these do you actually go to buy books. The books are the cookies on top of the ice-cream sundae. And boy, do I want those cookies.
Today I walked around with a small notepad. Because I went with a friend, I didn't have quite as many opportunities to talk to authors and the booksellers*** but I managed to scribble down a long and thorough list of books that interest me. Do they all fall in line with the deals? Probably not. But I'll buy more books than I really want and at the end of the day, I'll probably find some gems hidden in the stacks of bestselling thrillers, religious texts and wonderfully nostalgic kids books.
|Really heavy, but the back ache was worth it...|
* Real sales
** "Only" being, of course, a relative term. I'm sure if 44% of Americans attended such events, it would be considered monumental. Israel prides itself in HBW's influence and wide-spread appeal - 44% attendance is a somewhat embarrassing decrease, apparently.
*** I don't like using the term "bookseller" because the association is of a seller in a bookstore, but that's the most accurate description of these guys. They're sellers... of books.