Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The quintessence of dust.

Every day, or nearly so, for the last couple weeks, I've been hauling books from my overly-crowded apartment (which is bursting at the seams with books) to my over-crowded desk which is bursting at the seams with the detritus of the model of a modern major ad agency.

The office space I occupy, not just my table, looks like a tornado hit it. Papers are everywhere. Multi-colored sticky notes are pasted on monitors. There are bins to hold documents, racks to hold documents and documents in piles in nearly every nook and cranny.

What there aren't are books.

There are no annuals. No dictionaries. No landscapes of Ansel Adams or sketches by Reginald Marsh. There are no "Archives." No "CAs." No trade magazines. No general interest magazines.

Today I brought in a book I ordered from the UK. "Hegarty on Advertising. Turning Intelligence into Magic."

It will sit on my desk unsullied--no one will borrow it. No one even knows who John Hegarty is.

Out of force of habit I take a Sharpie to my books within seconds of their arrival at my desk. I write my name all over them. I want them shared; I'd like to think there are active learners around me, but I don't want them stolen.

Every day my pile grows another couple of inches, like kudzu in the American south or bamboo after too much rain. But the books don't get touched.

Not by young creatives who you think would be eager. Or even by account people who you'd think my profit from ingratiating themselves with me.

I'm told people today go online to find such things. To "browse" annuals. To find wonderful art.

So maybe the book-deniers are right and I'm just an anachronism. After all, I remember getting lost in the library for hours at Hal Riney, Ally & Gargano and, Ogilvy, home to the biggest agency library of all.

Dave Trott sent me a link this morning of David Abbott singing the praises of independent booksellers. http://www.ben-kay.com/2011/11/david-abbott-on-independent-bookshops/ That's what got me going.

I find it sad that the few things I hold dearest in the world are now considered by entire dark-aged generations as little more than eccentricities.


Rob Marsh said...

It's like you're in my brain today, Geo. I can't tell you how many times I've given a book to a colleague or direct report only to have it sit on their desk, unread. I look around the office and of 100 or so people, only 5 or 6 have more than one book on their desks. If you count magazines, you might add another dozen. But then, i'm just another anachronism.

EugenS said...

Hi George. First time commenting, long time reader. I'm 28. I've bought and read Hegarty's on Advertising the moment Amazon made it available in my region. I am an avid reader. If the creatives in your agency don't read, not even books that would help them professionally, then it's not that young creatives today don't read - it just means that you're surrounded by lazy hacks that won't make a name of themselves in this field anyway. No self-respecting creative will ever lose his or her passion and curiosity. So there we go, not all is lost :). I remember being a junior, I devoured all the great books, whipple, cutting edge adv, lovemarks, from those wonderful folks who brought you pearl harbour etc etc. I pity the guys (or girls) who never touched these books.

Abhishek said...

Hello George,

I could just copy and paste EugenS's remark above. (Not because I'm lazy but because I completely agree.)

I'm 26, so I like to believe I'm still young and excusably stupid. I just received my copy of Hegarty on Advertising today. I too get my hands on the books - Luke Sullivan, Dave Trott, Steve Harrison, George Lois, The Copy Book, etc. - whenever I can get them in India.
So yes, perhaps all is indeed not lost, not yet?

Oh, and your blog seldom fails to brighten my mornings. Thank you for that.

george tannenbaum said...

Eugen S and Abhishek...I'm guilty of over-generalization. I apologize.

jeff said...

You may not have seen, but I wrote a reply/expansion to this post. There are still people thirsty for knowledge in books. It just takes some gentle cohesion. Here's that post I mentioned.

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hemcoined said...

There are still people thirsty for knowledge in books.