Found: How the lost book returned

Sometimes things aren’t lost, just misplaced.

Last month, I wrote about how my book for the Library of Lost books project – a 1933 copy of The Picturegoer’s Who’s Who and Encyclopaedia – had been posted out but had never turned up.

A new replacement book was sent out from LoLB HQ: a 1916 copy of Hymns Ancient and Modern. It’s a gorgeous book, and sparked off ideas about how the project could be reshaped to play with sound and gesture.


Then, a couple of weeks ago, I had an email I had never expected to read.

The Picturegoer’s Who’s Who and Encyclopaedia had been found and returned to sender.

So, 39 days after it originally set out, the Lost Book arrived home.

And it’s absolutely beautiful.

It has that lovely old book smell, a slightly smoky, slightly sweet scent, like an old, dusty, comfortable armchair. (An object’s smell makes hidden worlds appear.)

The Picturegoer’s Who’s Who and Encyclopaedia of The Screen To-Day (first edition, pub. Odhams Press Limited, Long Acre, London) contains elegant photographs of 1930s film stars.

It shows the world of the 1930s film set: the star’s dressing room; set builders and painters; the ‘modern research department’.

The book also has articles and essays about ‘the Kinema’ (I love the one titled A Library of Sound Effects) and copies of the text of the Cinematograph Films Act, 1927 and Sunday Entertainments Act, 1932.

The introduction, written by George Arliss, says:

“There is now a realization that no nation can afford to ignore the Kinema, especially when we remember that nearly 20,000,000 people throughout the world attend a picture house each day.”

I think I’m going to have a lot of fun with this project over the next few months.

And what of the other book that arrived, the 1916 copy of Hymns Ancient and Modern? I’d like to try and make a separate project with that book. I’d love to try out some ideas with sound, music and Arduino, and see what happens.

So – lost things are found and one book has become two. The project is becoming more ambitious. It’s tricky trying to keep it reined in when there are so many things I’d like to try out.

It’s going to be an interesting and busy summer exploring sounds, gestures, stories and interactions – with two very old books being reworked and made new by technology.

2 thoughts on “Found: How the lost book returned

  1. “So, 39 days after it originally set out, the Lost Book arrived home.”
    What a lovely sentence.
    And a lovely post – I can’t wait to see this project completed!


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