When I was a kid in Europe, I remember bookstores were almost luxury destinations. I would walk into one and feel overwhelmed and awed, and I’d touch the volumes with utmost reverence. Books were expensive. All of them, except for a handful of children’s books and pocket atlases, were hardbound with gorgeous covers that were as much works of art as the words held within. They were also a universe unto themselves. Getting an autograph, or even running into an author of any kind was almost unheard of. Seeing one made into a movie was a Very Big Deal.
My great uncle would collect books just to show them off on his shelves. His brother, my grandfather, on the other hand, would borrow them from him to read, because he loved the written word, but couldn’t afford to buy the books he wanted. My mom had entire shelves filled with series by her favorites, all black spines with white text, and a clear number on the bottom indicating its order in the series. She never touched them after they were read, except to wipe dust off the tops.