A touching story
Professor Fiona Candlin has been trying to figure out why we keep putting our grubby little fingers on things in museums:
Touching, Candlin says, is "part of a much bigger, more imaginative encounter with things—trying to somehow make contact with the past." And there are countless ways of facilitating this type of contact, it seems. Recently, she says, a former head of conservation at the British Museum told her about a visitor who came into the Egyptian sculpture gallery and left tins of cat food as an offering for the lion-headed goddess Sekhmet. (Atlas Obscura)
As always, it all comes back to books. Physical books are less convenient, less accessible, less easily purchased, and more expensive. So why do they exist at all? The inertia of tradition can only carry the presence of physical books so far.
Studies Candlin's show that tactility has a deeply, perhaps neurologically, rooted appeal. Can publishers of physical books rely on this mysterious force? Or is there something they can do to build on it?