books & paper

“The economic wisdom of this century can be measured by what happens with the so-called ‘compact’ editions, where there is little consumption of paper, and endless wear and tear on the eyesight. However, in defence of saving paper on books one might mention that it is the custom in this century to print much and read nothing. To this custom belongs also the abandonment of those round letters which were used generally in Europe in past centuries, and the substitution for them of long letters, to which we might add the gloss on the paper. These are things which are the more beautiful to look at the more harmful they are to the reader’s eye. But all this is very reasonable at a time when books are printed to be seen and not to be read.”

(Giacomo Leopardi, Thoughts, § 3, p. 7 in J. G. Nichols’s translation.)

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