Readers gotta read

And the medium, contra McLuhan, is only dimly connected to the message:

Ah, the wails of anguish. The frenzied wringing of hands. The prophesies of imminent doom.

We’ve heard them before.

“Oh, woe, nobody is reading the good stuff chiseled on stone or engraved in clay any more. It’s all that damned papyrus crap!”

“Oh, woe. Nobody is reading scrolls any more. It’s all that book bindery crap!”

“Oh, woe. Nobody is reading books any more. It’s all that digital book crap!”

Now before some of you — and I know some of you will — chime in with your personal preference for imbibing information only from the well-thumbed pages of your beautiful leather-bound book, whilst sipping a bit of brandy or sherry and inhaling the (likely carcinogenic) dusty smell of ancient paper, well, you read books.

I make the damned things. Or at least I make the combinations of words strung together that make of books something more than a deck of blank, useless pages. (Although I’m sure even blank pages are perfectly good for sniffing the lovely aromas.)

And I don’t give an anorexic ratfuck about how you read what I create, as long as you read it.

I was taught, decades ago, that there’s only one phrase an author likes better than “I read your last book.”

And that is “I bought your last book.”


  1. Dan T. »

    12 June 2019 · 7:41 am

    I remember a Twitter thread not too long ago on that subject, with somebody extolling the feel and smell of old books that wasn’t found in an e-reader, and others blasting the original poster… this being 2019, it very quickly devolved into social-justicey jargon like “ableist”, and I ended up finding both sides of the argument very far on the annoying end of the scale.

  2. Brian J. »

    12 June 2019 · 8:00 am

    I bought your last book new.

    (He said, knowing full well that he himself buys 98% of his books used, and the poor author doesn’t get a penny.)

  3. McGehee »

    12 June 2019 · 9:30 am

    De gustibus, etc.

  4. nightfly »

    12 June 2019 · 10:17 am

    “Paper-sniffers”? Listen, when I buy a book I want to have that book around for a while. A physical book requires no batteries; it cannot be stealth-edited by censors and sensitivity scolds while I’m not looking; it can’t be erased, nor will it be lost if the device it’s on suddenly stops working.

    An author may not care how we read, but some readers do have a preference and might just have good reasons for it.

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