book fetishism, and possible bargains

Intending to write up Kikai Hiroh’s Anatolia (2011), I first had to unwrap it. Which got me thinking. . . .

It came in its publisher’s cellophane wrap, or so I vaguely remember. Not being utterly mad, I would have simply removed this and thrown it in the trash. Here’s what I saw (even through any cellophane wrap):

Kikai Hiroh, “Anatolia” (slipcase and obi)

What we see here is not so much a book as a printed box, partly covered by a piece of paper. The paper runs all the way around the box, and chops the woman’s legs off around the knees. It’s called an obi, a word more commonly used for what’s similarly around the dust cover of a more simply packaged book. The idea is that an enticing blurb (here, by Horie Toshiyuki) can go on the obi, which the buyer can then trash.

As with anything that’s normally trashed (perhaps because it only merits being trashed), an obsessed minority demands it for completeness’ sake, and gradually the nutty becomes the norm.

Here’s the book (or rather cardboard box) again, minus obi:

Kikai Hiroh, “Anatolia” (slipcase, no obi)

So it’s a slipcase. I’m all in favour of slipcases: they keep dust off and also possibly help both insulate against accidents and hold pages together in accidents. Which is a particularly good idea in a land where earthquakes can easily toss books off shelves.

Interestingly, this slipcase is finished in matte white. It must be one of the best surfaces for picking up and retaining greasy fingerprints. What a nightmare for the book fetishist.

Take off the slipcase, and:

Kikai Hiroh, “Anatolia” (dust cover, of course no slipcase)

This is what you’d normally have on your knees or a table, as you actually looked at the content, which most people would say was the main point of the artifact.

The largest lettering (アナトリア, bottom right) here seems to shade to grey, but actually it’s silver. Move the camera slightly and it would come out differently.

And let’s continue to denude the book:

Kikai Hiroh, “Anatolia” (without even its dust cover)

Here you are: the cover. It’s as far as you can go without actually opening the book (see the next post) or using a penknife on it.

So there are three disposable wrappers. The outermost is particularly fragile, and the next one in is particularly susceptible to fingerprints and the like. Lose or sully any one of the three, and collectors lose interest. Long may they do so! It brings down the prices of “incomplete” used examples, which is good news for me as stingy buyer of used books.

So much for bibliomania. Next up, a look inside this book, which of course is a lot more interesting.

Copyright of the images shown above of course belongs to Kikai Hiroh or Crevis (the publisher), not to me.


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