The Interior World of Books, Browsing, and Collecting Inside the City

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Issue Vol. 4 No. 1 (2021)
Published Jan 29, 2021
Section Articles
Article downloads 503
Submitted : Oct 1, 2020 | Accepted : Jan 17, 2021

Alison B Snyder


A most desirable and collectable material object is the ubiquitous book. A bound composite of printed pages with words and images, it contains a microcosm of myriad narrative viewpoints, experiences, and imaginations. Metaphorically, a book compactly conceals a kind of interior space that protects the provocative lives of people, their character, ideas, and explorations, thus communicating different scales of interiority. Book collectors, called bibliophiles, revere and covet books as their object of desire. The bibliophile as seeker-collector-seller partakes of simple and complex transactions that essentially protect the lives of the books. This essay concentrates on two main book browsing locations within the urban context of Istanbul, Turkey, and the everyday interior spaces of the sahaf, the secondhand bookseller, who continues a tradition of selling new, pre-owned or secondhand ordinary or rare books. Its text moves between historic information and first-person narrative based on fieldwork to express and expand views of interiority theory, through reality and metaphor. The many scales of individual and collective impulses found inside the city streets and their inserted passage structures are exemplified by the significant simultaneity of the desire for the hand-held object and its hand-to-hand exchange.

Keywords: bibliophile, books, Istanbul, seeker-collector-seller, urban interior microcosm

Article Details

How to Cite
Snyder, A. B. (2021). The Interior World of Books, Browsing, and Collecting Inside the City. Interiority, 4(1), 5–26.
Author Biography

Alison B Snyder, Pratt Institute

Alison B. Snyder is an architect, designer and professor at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York, USA. Her interests, pedagogy and scholarship are informed by how the interior is understood through its integration with architecture, the arts, and locality. Asking socio-cultural questions to consider what propels spatial transformation and adaptability over time, Snyder conducts urban and rural fieldwork, often in Turkey, to analyse and interpret monumental and mundane settings. Her work has been presented globally and published in a variety of international journals and books. Snyder has her M. ARCH from Columbia University in New York City. She directed the Interior Architecture Program at the University of Oregon, and chaired Pratt’s Department of Interior Design.


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