August 22, 2012

"Are there still young people piling books in their garages, hoping to have a real shop some day?"

"I didn’t know. Calling for the auction was a way to find out...."
Everything sold but the fiction.... Many people asked me if I was sad to see so many books go. I wasn’t—mainly I was irritated to discover that I still had 30,000 novels to sell.

18 comments:

cassandra lite said...

Are they on Kindle?

Carnifex said...

I hate that...the comment about the direction of our country. The losing of generations of people who read at best minimally. I have read since I can remember, comic books with flying men, and aliens, and talking animals with clothes.

Then came the adventure tales...Tom Sawyer, Huck Finn, Black Beauty, Treasaure Island. And as I got older I started to devour books. reading and rereading them to save money. Often 3 a week. Varied subjects from physics to A Tale of Two Cities.

Always to get away from this place I grew up and lived in. This very, so very average, pedestrian place. I recognized I was average but at least I wasn't with my books.

I've read all the McMurtry stuff I could find, even the more feminine touchy feely stuff. That's how much I enjoy his writing.

Maybe I'm just seeing my own mortality in the death of the printed page. But at least printed books have a longer life than the mayfly-esque E-books so many find popular today.

50 Shades of Grey...fitting to usher in this new, grey world, where an artists works can disappear in the flash of an electron.

Ever look at a dead LCD screen? It's grey too.

Lem said...

Everything sold but the fiction...

rcocean said...

I'm surprised he only had 30,000 novels left, I'd expect much more. Judas Priest, no one wants to read Vidal, Mailer, or Bellow anymore - why would they want to read the 100th best novel of 1949?

Carnifex said...

Oh My!!! The smartest President Eveh couldn't spell Ohio!! No one spotted him the O-H-or I it seems. Sorta' makes Quayle look like a god damn thesaurus. And I have to admit, that takes some doin'.

wyo sis said...

Larry looks happy.

Mumpsimus said...

I've always loved old bookstores -- and McMurtry had one of the best -- but progress is progress. People used to love traveling on ocean liners, too.

Finding an out-of-print book pre-internet was a laborious, hit-or-miss, weeks-long process involving snail mail and the AB Bookman's Weekly, with its endless dense columns of microscopic type. Now it's a snap, all the pleasure and none of the hassle.

When the next generation of e-readers arrives, or maybe the one after -- with color e-ink, black-on-white text, intuitive navigation -- physical books will become another kind of collectible.

What sucks is, you'll never find an old e-book in your attic, or at a yard sale, and discover it's worth hundreds of dollars.

Christy said...

Love McMurtry. He writes the best women characters.

Leon said...

Man I wish I'd stopped in last February when I was up that way. He had the largest Africa collection I've ever seen.

Robert Cook said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Robert Cook said...

have an iPhone and an iPad and have read ebooks on each. It's convenient to be able to carry a full library in one's pocket or backpack.

However, I still prefer real books printed on paper and bound between cloth or cardboard or heavy stock covers. I won't belabor the reasons; those who feel similarly will know why, or have their own personal reasons, and those who don't agree or can't understand won't and can't.

I will, however, mention two benefits of "analog" books over digital that I don't expect will ever be erased:

First, one doesn't need electricity or battery power or functioning software to read a real book. One can carry a book anywhere and read it under any conditions, as long as one has even minimal light;

and,

One can't lose one's entire library in one fell swoop because one's ebook device is lost, stolen, or destroyed. (A house fire will manage this, but this latter catastrophe is rarer, I'd bet, than the former.)

Moreover, browsing an online digital book catalog hardly approaches, much less equals or surpasses the pleasures of browsing in a physical bookstore.

However, once the generation raised on "real" books has disappeared, so, I'm sure, will books in non-digital format, except for what will remain of what will be, by then, the "antiquarian" books of yesteryear.

(One advantage of a digital library over a physical one is that one doesn't have to move hundreds of pounds of printed matter when moving, and on one's own death or the death of a loved one with a large library, one doesn't have to find a way to dispose of the hundreds of pounds of printed matter.)

prairie wind said...

I love books, too, Robert Cook. Don't get me started, though, on people who "love" books and buy them as decorator items.

Robert Cook said...

I hate it on home renovation shows where the designers put in bookcases but fill them mostly with bric a brac, or where a room with lots of books is "improved" by the removal of most or all of the books.

Harold said...

"One can't lose one's entire library in one fell swoop because one's ebook device is lost, stolen, or destroyed."

One also can't replace physical books for no cost when they are lost, stolen, or destroyed. I haven't found a lot of one time can't be backed up to other media e-books so replacing them is pretty simple. In fact when my nook died while traveling(got it replaced under warranty at the B&N Store in the town I was visiting) , I had my whole library of purchased books redownloaded from B&N online within minutes of charging the replacement and connecting to the airport's wifi.

Robert Cook said...

Harold,

Yes, there's that.

No question, ebooks have their advantages, and, as I stated, I have ebooks on my i-devices, and have read books on them.

I prefer books printed on paper, but do not restrict myself to them.

Dust Bunny Queen said...


When the next generation of e-readers arrives, or maybe the one after -- with color e-ink, black-on-white text, intuitive navigation -- physical books will become another kind of collectible.


E readers are pretty nifty gadgets. But a book will never require a battery to read.

To me an actual used book is a treasure. It is textural, substantial and it is a link to the past. People who are probably long gone from this earth bought, used and treasured the book that I am holding.

Sometimes you have hand written notes in the margins. Passages that have been underlined. Inscriptions in the front to show that it was a gift from a grandfather to grandson. All of these things tell you something about the persons who owned the book previously.

I have a very old Gulliver's Travels inscribed to "?? (can't read the name) Boyne from papa Christmas 1885". I try to imagine what their life was like then and what they had seen: from the Civil War, aftermath of the Civil War, waves of Irish immigration to the East Coast and the opening of the West to the industrialization and taming of the West. Wondering how expensive a book might have been at that time. Was it a sacrifice for them or were they wealthy. Thinking about the importance and loving thoughts in the act of picking THIS book for a Christmas present.

None of these thoughts would occur to me holding a Kindle.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

Robert Cook,

Benefits of "on-dead-tree" books:

(1) If you're reading one while walking to the grocery store and trip, you have a scuffed hand or knee or both; you aren't out the price of a Kindle.

(2) Probably what you wanted to read, if it's fairly-but-not-very old, is not available for the Kindle anyway.

The Kindle is terrific for new books and public-domain books, not so much for things in between.

Re: Replacement, though, Amazon has a record of everything I've bought for the Kindle, and would restore all of it were it somehow wiped out.

Mumpsimus said...

@DBQ: I absolutely agree with everything you say; I'm also a big fan of the arts of typography and layout (and a lesser fan of the art of bookbinding).

But I still think that as soon as there's a really good e-reader, these considerations will be crushed by convenience, and having a physical library will become a niche hobby.

I love my books, but the next time I have to move, I might think about all those dozens of heavy cardboard boxes, and decide to do what Mr. McMurtry did. Probably not, though.