We've all experienced the transformative, transporting power of a good book but what about objects that adopt the book as a form—do they hold a similar ability to move us? For years, Mindell Dublansky, a preservation librarian at the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Thomas J. Watson Library, has been collecting a wide variety of functional objects that look like books—or blooks, as she has come to call them. As her collection grew to hundreds of objects, she began to notice that blooks have been around for centuries living "in a parallel universe to real books," as she describes. For Dublansky, "eliminating the text and studying objects that are made to look like books, tells me about what books mean to people."
Her collection runs the gamut from blooks used as storage, household objects made to resemble the familiar shape of books, blooks that take advantage of a hollow interior to conceal another object, "punchline" blooks that are made to deliver jokes, blooks made to memorialize or commemorate an event, and blooks used as learning devices.
All kitschiness aside (and there is plenty of it), the sheer range of blooks—dating as far back as the 18th century and appearing across various cultures—tells us that there exists a human tendency "to reflect values and emotions through creating and associating with books."
Although it began as a private collection, Dublansky's dedicated study has garnered more public attention, with exhibitions at the Vassar College Art Library and most recently at The Grolier Club in New York City. Alongside a recently published survey book, she maintains an extensive blog archiving her findings and tracing their origins.