Readers tend to forget that pages are like human skin, they are a depository of history, and I don’t mean history books. If read properly, a book becomes something more than what it has been before. Creases, soil, stains, the grooves in the spine, the furrows and wrinkles in the corners, these are indelible marks of a book’s existence. Look, this crinkle was made by a middle-aged reader two years ago; this one here was only made last year, and I can even remember when: the reader, a beautiful dark-eyed woman, was reading while walking, and it happened one sunny morning. Can you compare this with an electronic time stamp? No, books, as I know best, are as malleable as the reader who enjoys them. They transform but are themselves transformed. I help with that, remember? As I travel through the pages, I witness this ageing, maturing process. Before I was called to help, books would suffer in their own bodies the pain I now take away through my blessed intercession. Their pages have been spared the bodily harm I now draw to my own body. Without book bodies, there will be no need for bookmarks like me, and the prospect of nothingness worries me.
Honestly, I don’t think it will come to that. No, I am not trying to cheer myself up. I just don’t think the reader can really stay away from me and the book and enjoy a plastic slab. A handheld slab is really the tombstone of gratifying reading. The consummation of the reading act will be so deferred until it becomes clear that self-abuse has replaced intimate intercourse. And readers will be rushing back to my books and to me, remembering that if bookmarks exist, it is because books have been there first. And they will be the last to go, long after us bookmarks have ceased to point the way, to mark the track, to keep the memory alive.