There is much history in books, if one looks carefully enough. By this I do not mean those works concerned with history itself, nor am I refering to historical fiction. Rather I am referring to passing references, such as that contained in the 4-volume edition of John Buchan’s “The Thirty-Nine Steps”, which resides on the top shelf of the tall pine bookcase in my bedroom. The book’s title page reads
“… printed and published by the National Institute for the Blind, Great Portland Street, London W” and carries the date of 1938.
The National Institute for the Blind has, for many years, been the Royal National Institute of Blind People, and its head office is today located in Peterborough.
On turning over the title page, the reader comes across the following
“The price given for this book in the National Institute’s books catalogue represents the actual cost of production. The book is sold to libraries and institutions for the blind in the British Empire, and to blind persons resident in the United Kingdom, or in any part of the British Empire at one-third the catalogue price”.
The British Empire has, of course long ceased to be. However contained within the pages of the braille edition of “The Thirty-Nine Steps” I find a reminder of a vanished age.
I would be interested to learn of any books owned by this blog’s readers which contain interesting historical data. Please do comment below.
I am pleased to report that my collection of poetry, “Lost in the Labyrinth of My Mind” is available to purchase, as a braille book, from the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) and can be found by clicking HERE.
Enter “morris kevin. lost in the labyrinth of my mind“, into the search field and click on search.
My book should then be displayed.
Alternatively “Lost in the Labyrinth of My Mind” can be ordered by emailing them directly at: firstname.lastname@example.org, or by calling them on 0303 123 9999.
When contacting RNIB please quote order number 25686204.
“Lost” was originally brailled in 2016 (and I was provided with my own copy at this juncture), however it has only now been added to RNIB’s catalogue, meaning that it can be purchased by any braille user who wishes to do so.
To hold one’s own book is a wonderful feeling. The tangible representation of one’s endeavours writ large. For most authors the pleasure is enhanced by the ability to read the print editions of their works. However, for me as a blind author (who is unable to read print) the situation is rather more complex. I can read ebooks using the text to speech facility on my Kindle. I can not, however read the print edition of my book, “Dalliance; A Collection Of Poetry And Prose” which sits on the bookcase in my living room. While I still derive pleasure from taking the print edition of “Dalliance” in to my hands, it is not the same as being able to sit in an armchair, flick through the pages and pause at random to read a poem.
I got round the above issue by getting the Royal National Institute Of Blind People (RNIB) to transcribe “Dalliance” from the electronic file held on my computer in to braille allowing me to possess an accessible (physical) copy of my work. Yesterday I sent the electronic file of my latest collection of poetry, “Lost In The Labyrinth Of My Mind” through to the RNIB. I await the braille edition’s arrival with eager anticipation! While I am a huge fan of ebooks there is, in my opinion no substitute for their physical counterparts.
I thought it would be interesting to share a view of the bookcase in my bedroom. The books in question are all in braille. I have four book cases in total; the one in the bedroom, another in my living room and two in my study/spare room.
K Morris reading an anonymous poem entitled ‘The Bridal Morn’
A selection of books from my bookcase
K Morris reading an anonymous poem entitled ‘The Bridal Morn’
In September 2014 I wrote a post entitled “Come Back My Little Oxford”, (http://newauthoronline.com/2014/09/28/come-back-my-little-oxford/). In that article I lamented the giving away of the Braille edition of my Dictionary and explained that the work is no longer available from the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB).
I am frequently reminded of “The Little Oxford” when writing poetry and short stories. I wish to ascertain the meaning of a word or phrase, break off from my writing, go online and look it up. What is the problem with doing this? I hear someone ask. Surely the internet provides a wealth of information and unlike paper reference books, online material can be updated in the blink of an eye thereby ensuring the person in search of knowledge has the most up-to-date data at their fingertips
I agree with much of the above. It is impossible to deny the ease with which online sources of reference can (and are) updated. My problem with online reference material falls into 2 main areas:
By going online I am distracted from the writing process and fall prey to the desire to check email or social media while connected. Additionally many online reference sources survive by using advertising which can be distracting when all one wants to ascertain is the definition of a word or phrase.
I enjoy the physicality of books. Its pleasant to turn the pages of a hard copy work rather than search Google or other internet engine for the meaning of words.
It could be argued that I could avoid being distracted by carrying out online research prior to starting the writing process. Would that things where that simple. Admittedly I could, while writing note down words I wished to look up and research them online once the writing process has finished. However this can entail using a word and/or phrase of which I am unsure, marking it up for checking at a later point in time and continuing on with my writing. It is, in my experience easier to check as one is going along rather than using a word in the wrong context then, at a later point discovering one has done so.
In conclusion the world of online reference possesses many advantages, not least among them the ability to find meanings which may not have filtered down into paper works due to their newness. However this is, in my experience cancelled out by the distractions of the online world. As I said back in September 2014, “come back my Little Oxford”.