A book is more than the sum of its materials. It is an artifact of the human mind and hand.
Few things contain and impact the immediacy of cultural impress so evocatively as books, and not only through their ideas. A book is an artifact, and every age establishes upon the basic functional structure its own particular stamp.
The book itself is a curious artifact, not showy in its technology but complex and extremely efficient: a really neat little device, compact, often very pleasant to look at and handle, that can last decades, even centuries. It doesn't have to be plugged in, activated, or performed by a machine; all it needs is light, a human eye, and a human mind. It is not one of a kind, and it is not ephemeral. It lasts. It is reliable. If a book told you something when you were fifteen, it will tell it to you again when you're fifty, though you may understand it so differently that it seems you're reading a whole new book.
Ursula K. Le Guin
After all, much of the fondness avid readers, and certainly collectors, have for their books is related to the books' physical bodies. As much as they are vessels for stories (and poetry, reference information, etc.), books are historical artifacts and repositories for memories-we like to recall who gave books to us, where we were when we read them, how old we were, and so on.
Allison Hoover Bartlett
A civilization without retail bookstores is unimaginable. Like shrines and other sacred meeting places, bookstores are essential artifacts of human nature. The feel of a book taken from the shelf and held in the hand is a magical experience, linking writer to reader.