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By Christopher Robin was Murdered (Fri Dec 29, 2006 at 05:29:33 AM EST) (all tags)
One man's fetish object is another man's sign of vast and lamentable ignorance. An advert.


A couple days ago, on this selfsame site, the topic of books as objects came up. I'd expressed my dislike for the cover design of the American edition of Richard Dawkins' latest tome. It's this sort of blank, reflective silver dealie. Like a mirror. The message, I guess, is that you need to look at yourself and ask, "Am I a religious fanatic? Could I be more like the educated British upper middle-class?" The unexamined life is, after all, not likely to plop down nearly $30 bucks for a book. My chief objection, however, was not thematic. I didn't think, from a marketing standpoint, it was a good move. Mainly, the silvered surface shows ever bump, nick, and scrape, getting the crap beat out of it pretty quickly. Some reader took issue with my desire for an un-abused book. Notably, our much beloved komet who opined:

"nothing says 'I'm an aliterate sod who nevertheless chooses to maintain a veneer of literacy' than a bookcase (not 'display case') of shiny new books that look like they've never been read. Anyone who has a copy of Lady Chatterley's Lover that doesn't fall open to a specific page is a philistine."

[NB: He included some footnotes and stuff here. I took them out. Mainly so I could write "NB" in my diary. 'Cause I enjoy that sort of thing.]

At the time, I objected. We traded "witticisms" about the issue until it bored both of us and we let the thing drop.

But, I still can't get it out of my head. I've been thinking that, instead of using the disagreement as an excuse for comment sparring, I should have done what all reasonable adults do when they find themselves disagreeing: find a way to monetize the matter.

So, here's my idea . . .

My idea

[Interior: Wood-paneled office, CRwM stands next to lab-coated young man in glasses. Both are looking at pages in a thick, hardcover book that CRwM is holding. CRwM begins talking as he closes the book and hands it back to the young man in the lab coat.]

CRwM: " . . . and I thought it was an excellent Swedenborg reference. But I talked to Chet, in customer service, and you know what he said. He said it wasn't."

[Both CRwM and the young man turn towards the camera.]

CRwM: "Oh, hello. I'm CRwM. You're just in time to learn about an exciting new development in literary technology. A famous philosopher once said that a room without a full bookshelf in is like a dog with only three-legs, and no nose, and, perhaps, only one eye. And even that would be located in some horribly unpleasant wholly inappropriate place on the dog's body. This is, of course, utter crap. Many of the smartest, richest, and most important people who ever lived were illiterate. Did you know the twelveteenth president of the United States, Chester T. Taylor was illiterate? As were baseball superstar Joe DiMaggio and famed scientist and miniature golf enthusiast Albert Einstein. How about scientist and inventor Buckminster Fuller and poet Robert Frost? Both functionally illiterate!"

[Young man inches uncomfortably sideways through dialog until he's off screen.]

CRwM: "Despite the fact that reading has never done anybody any good, refusing to play the publishing industry's little game is frowned upon in polite society. Like physical exercise, parenthood, and the practice of philosophy, reading still benefits from the widespread public delusion that it is, in and of itself, a good thing. But who has time to read? We're swinging, can do, modern, switched on cats and kittens. We can't spend all our time pondering the jibber jabber of others. What we need is a way to look like we've read, without actually having to bother ourselves with the act. Now this dilemma, which comedienne Phyllis Diller has dubbed the burning issue of our times, has a solution."

[External shot. CRwM stands next to a large sign placed near the entrance of half-full parking lot of a brutally personality-free corporate park in anywhere suburban America. The name on the sign says OPGD Technology Services.]

CRwM: "Here at GDW Service Technologies, we do specialize in providing the modern, non-reading public with professionally pre-distressed books. Now you can have all the benefits of being well-read, without all the annoying reading. Here at GDW we'll dog ear your pages, provide appropriate cover and just jacket abuse, leave meaningful discolorations and stains. We will even leave extensive annotations including underlines, highlighting, and margin commentary. You can choose from any of our popular annotation styles:"

[FX: White list scrolling up a vibrant blue background.]

    The Scholar
    The Angry Liberal
    The Beatnik
    The Well-Read, but Still Firmly Reality-Based Average Joe
    The Contrarian
    The Young, Serious Poet
    The Angry Conservative
    The College Undergrad
    The Moral Philosopher
    The Angry Independent Voter
    Blanton Collier

[Interior Shot: CRwM, back in the office, seated behind a desk. Bookshelves on the wall behind him.]

CRwM: "You'll never have to read again. But don't take my word for it. Let's hear some testimonials."

Testimonial 1:
"Call me 'preparedness girl.' Because of my family situation over the last years I have become, if not obsessed with preparing for problems and disasters, then at least highly concerned. And over the last years I have been forced to deal with more than my share of power failures. So when I saw this item advertised on television I decided that if it did half of what it promised it'd still be a good thing to have in the house. As it turns out, it does everything as promised." M. J. Walters of Chicago, IL

Testimonial 2:
"I love this product! I was so sick of shaving that I decided to give this a try. I have a low pain tolorance and I have to say that it did hurt ALOT the first 2 times. (I admit I had a glass or two of wine before doing it the second time lol) but after that the hair is much finer and since it grows back at different speeds its not as concetraited in one area...which is why it hurts. I use this all the time now. My legs are soooo smooth. I usually do this once a week while watching tv. It actually lasts for 3/4 weeks or so however since hair grows back at different speeds and depending upon how much of the hair was taken out by the root or if it just broke off I like to use it weekly. It doesnt hurt at all now...although I read someone used this on their underarms. I tried it and will NEVER do that again...that was painful!!! the bikini line is less painful than that. This product works great and I'll never go back to shaving!!!" Pamela Lars of Fairfax, VA.

CRwM: "Join the several tens of satisfied customers. Order today. And send money. Lots of money. Whatever you've got will be fine."

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Pseudo-Bread | 18 comments (18 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback
If I had money, I'd invest by lm (4.00 / 7) #1 Fri Dec 29, 2006 at 05:37:49 AM EST
It's like a stone-washing for the soul.

There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
"Stone-washing for the soul." by Christopher Robin was Murdered (4.00 / 2) #2 Fri Dec 29, 2006 at 05:45:14 AM EST
Man, I wish I'd thought of that during the write up. I'll hire you as my marketing VP the moment the VC guys get smart and kick us a couple million.

[ Parent ]
A couple million by lm (4.00 / 1) #3 Fri Dec 29, 2006 at 05:49:39 AM EST
That's a business idea that takes $50 to start. You'll make millions.

There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
book jackets by sasquatchan (4.00 / 1) #4 Fri Dec 29, 2006 at 06:24:57 AM EST
I'm snobby enough to like hard-backs and pay the extra $ for 'em. But I usually take the dust-covers off, as they just get torn to shreds as I lug the book around in my lunchbox. Usually the dust-jackets get lost after removal, so the book gets put on the shelf as-is.

i like hardcovers by 256 (4.00 / 1) #8 Fri Dec 29, 2006 at 08:46:35 AM EST
precisely because i am irrationally opposed to cover art.

as soon as i buy a hardcover, i take off the dust jacket and toss it in the garbage can on the way out of the book store.

i've even been known to go so far as to tear the covers off my paperbacks when i found the cover art too offensive.
I don't think anyone's ever really died from smoking. --ni

[ Parent ]
but! by garlic (2.00 / 0) #15 Mon Jan 01, 2007 at 03:52:25 PM EST
then people will think it's a stolen book!

[ Parent ]
people have thought worse things about me by 256 (2.00 / 0) #17 Tue Jan 02, 2007 at 11:31:07 AM EST
i'm comfortable with it
I don't think anyone's ever really died from smoking. --ni
[ Parent ]
I'd invest, asap. by blixco (4.00 / 1) #5 Fri Dec 29, 2006 at 06:42:06 AM EST
Also, I will offer for sale copies of famous books that are well read, annotated by hand, and broken in.  I expect a piece of the pie!
I accidentally had a conversation in italian at lunchtime. I don't speak italian. - Merekat
And pie you shall have, my man. by Christopher Robin was Murdered (4.00 / 2) #9 Fri Dec 29, 2006 at 08:59:37 AM EST
I've give you three guesses who my new VP of Strategic Partnerships is.

Here's a hint: his name rhymes with mlixco.

[ Parent ]
You are my savior! by ucblockhead (4.00 / 3) #6 Fri Dec 29, 2006 at 06:42:30 AM EST
All that wasted time I'll have more time to play Warcraft!!
[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman
People helping people. by Christopher Robin was Murdered (4.00 / 1) #11 Fri Dec 29, 2006 at 09:01:55 AM EST
That's what this is all about, man.

That and the money thing.

We're glad we could help. Send money.

[ Parent ]
You know, normally . . . by slozo (2.00 / 0) #7 Fri Dec 29, 2006 at 07:53:12 AM EST
. . . I don't give a cat's arse about the way a book looks - after all, excluding picture books, it's the written thought you're after when you read it.

But you, sir, remind me of an inuit man I bought ice cubes from, up in the Yukon . . .

I'm sold! I mean, I'll take three!

Do you take void cheques?

Complaints by Herring (4.00 / 2) #10 Fri Dec 29, 2006 at 09:00:21 AM EST
  1. You quoted from comments within my diary without acknowledgement so therefore breaking my copyright and that.
  2. I can't read so I don't know what you said.
I could never sell, much less give away a book. Apart from maybe that copy of The Road Ahead which my parent's gave me years ago. One of the few books I have which I've only read once.

Anyone want to buy an autographed copy of The Road Ahead? OK, it's autographed by me and not Bill Gates but my autographs are much rarer.

You can't inspire people with facts
- Small Gods

If you're writing in books already . . . by Christopher Robin was Murdered (4.00 / 1) #12 Fri Dec 29, 2006 at 09:06:35 AM EST
We've got a lucrative career opportunity in the exciting and dynamic world of professional book distressing that's just right for you.

And this isn't about selling or giving away books, this is about messing up books other people have bought.

On the serious side, I think having to move a lot in my youth cured me of getting personally connected to my books. Every few years or so, we'd have to cull all the books we owned. Now I cull about once every couple of months.

[ Parent ]
I'm getting ready to do this again. by garlic (4.00 / 1) #16 Mon Jan 01, 2007 at 03:55:32 PM EST
I got about a dozen books for christmas. With the other boxes and wrapping paper still not cleaned up it just feels like I have too much stuff. I'm going to go through and try to pick books that I'm not really going to read like anything I bought to impress a girl.

[ Parent ]
seriously, dude by lm (4.00 / 1) #13 Fri Dec 29, 2006 at 10:27:00 AM EST
Do you mind if I steal your idea? When I was working on a certificate in web development last sprint, I took an eCommerce class focused on creating exactly the type of website you'd need to build up a business along the lines you've put forward. At the time I couldn't think of anyone that I'd be willing to sucker away from their money. But if someone wants to pay for `read' copies of books, I'd be glad to take their tender.

There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
Merry late Christmas, lm. by Christopher Robin was Murdered (4.00 / 2) #14 Fri Dec 29, 2006 at 10:42:42 AM EST
It is yours.

I've got one condition:

If you get all rich and famous off it, I want you to take a sizable portion of it and make sure you spoil your daughter rotten.

[ Parent ]
+1FP by nebbish (2.00 / 0) #18 Thu Jan 11, 2007 at 01:32:01 AM EST

It's political correctness gone mad!

Pseudo-Bread | 18 comments (18 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback