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.)

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Exhibiting iconic books

Nate Pederson on Fine Books & Collections points out:
A tip to any public libraries struggling with declining patronage: go digging around in your vault!  The public library in Windsor, Ontario discovered a Bible from 1585 languishing away in its vault earlier this year.  Librarians promptly put the book on display and saw a 40 percent increase in visitors last month. 
In my paper on "Iconic Electronic Texts" for the Religion & Media Workshop in San Francisco last month, I argued that the same motive drives many digitization projects. Libraries and museums put there most iconic books online in hopes of bringing more people through their doors to see the real thing. Once there, they may buy physical momentos of the relic text, ranging from cheap postcards to expensive facsimile reproductions of the entire book. So, far from detracting from the appeal of physical books, digitization provides new means for marketing their display as relics.

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