Iconic books are texts revered as objects of power rather than just as words of instruction, information, or insight. In religious and secular rituals around the globe, people carry, show, wave, touch and kiss books and other texts, as well as read them. This blog chronicles such events and activities. (For more about iconic books, see the links to the Iconic Books Project at left.)

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Shea's The Phone Book

Penguin has published Ammon Shea's The Phone Book: The Curious History of the Book That Everyone Uses But No One Reads. I will be interested to read it, since I have often used the phone book as my best example of a completely un-iconic book: it is ritualized neither in the semantic dimension (the point of Shea's subtitle) nor in the iconic or performative dimensions. Despite being an instantly recognizable feature of 20th century culture (and so "iconic" in the popular sense of the term), the phone book's lack of ritualization makes it vulnerable to electronic replacement.

(h/t Rebecca Rego Barry on Fine Books & Collections)

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