Thursday, September 20, 2007

I have them, you have them, your grandmother has them

A term has just emerged in the book world. Other people (here and here) already know about it, but I just caught on (big surprise). Conjure up a mental image of your bookshelf. Peruse the selection until you come to that one book you have not read, the book that was not meant to be read all the way through. Maybe it contains little pearls of wisdom from Hallmark writers, or it tells you how to preserve your family heirlooms. Imagine being the author of such a book, knowing copies of your year-long project will gather dust on bookshelves across the country. Imagine being the editor of this book, knowing that your hard work is generating dollars but no…sense (I like puns).

This treasured bit of clutter is called the Antibook. It is a book that is not meant to be read. You might consult it from time to time, or refer to a single section. You won’t read it though. Estranged relatives buy antibooks for each other because they seem like the best variety of gift-giving miscellany. They think to themselves, “If I buy a book for someone, whatever book it is, it means that I am smart and that I think they are smart.”

The term Antibook comes from an article written by Sherman Young in the Sydney Morning Herald. Using sales figures as evidence, Young argues that antibooks are shoving books out of the marketplace. This certainly seems to be the case in Australia. Do your part to preserve books. When the time comes to give a gift to an estranged relative, buy a book they can actually read.


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