"A book, any book, is for us a sacred object"

Monday, December 04, 2006 at 4:41 PM

Un libro, cualquier libro, es para nosotros un objeto sagrado.
A book, any book, is for us a sacred object.
- Jorge Luis Borges, “Del culto de los libros”/“On the Cult of Books
Last week, the Google Book Search team took a trip to Guadalajara, Mexico, to participate in the 20th annual Feria Internacional del Libro, or International Book Fair. It’s just about the biggest book fair in the Spanish-speaking world, drawing book lovers from all over Mexico and publishers from all over Latin America, as well as Spain and even Switzerland, Germany and France. We were happy to be there to talk about Google Book Search with our users and partners.

The fair was a true celebration of books. As much as it’s nice to have access to a wide range of titles in a huge online bookstore, it’s hard to match the experience of wandering through aisles and aisles of books from around the world. Many of the books at the fair won’t appear for sale on even the largest of megasites, which don’t often carry books from small publishers in Mexico, Peru or Cuba.

Borges’ phrase rings true for the experience of the fair, where there were many beautiful volumes designed to produce the most pleasant effects in a reader. There’s something especially gratifying about acquiring a book at a fair like this: you can wind up having a chat with the very person who dedicated themselves to producing the “sacred object” that you’re about to purchase. A sense of Borges’ “us” comes out in these interactions, where a common appreciation of books isn’t so much the impetus for a conversation as its ground. We’re readers too, and we certainly hope to be able to celebrate our appreciation of books with you at more and more book fairs in the future.


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