I'm merrily shelving books and plotting fanfic in my head when a woman approaches me. "Is this all the Left Behind you've got?"
"Yep, I put them all right there."
(paraphrased) "Ah. I love these books, I've read lots of religious books but these just showed me some new things, now I'm looking for a copy of the first one for my son, if I leave it at his house I know he'll read it. I don't know if you're religious at all, but they're really uplifting."
My face is showing polite interest while my brain flicks through the cue-cards of possible replies. "Oh, you mean the World's Worst Books?" "I read them via this blog, it's called Slacktivist, it really gets into the dept of the story. You might like it! Want me to write down the site so you can google it when you get home?" "I've heard their 'research' doesn't really match the bible, maybe you should check for sure." "I'm religious; I'm Wiccan!"
But she seemed, other than her taste in books, like a very nice woman and anyway I'm at work so I have to be my cheerful "book-lady" persona, so what came out my mouth was something like, "Well anything that makes you a better person is all good." and a suggestion to check back soon because we nearly always have the first book in stock. The lady left happy and I spent some time wondering if she really did find anything to improve her life in these terrible books, or if she was so fooled by sweet-tasting lies. I mean I've found beauty and joy in some quite stupid stories, so perhaps the right person could find authentic good even there. I would've liked to ask more, but there's no way I could've done so without expressing my negative opinion and that's a no-no for an employee.
Perhaps I'll make some postits advertising slacktivist and put them inside the covers.
Today a man came up to me...
"Are you the book lady? I've got a story for you. In Georgia they're paying unemployed teachers to type all the old textbooks into the computer and then destroying the books. Destroying them!"
I'm not in favor of destroying books and, "They could give them to schools in Africa or somewhere..."
This was not his point. "But once it's in the computer it can be changed. History can be changed!"
Not interested in following that train to conspiracy-theory land I responded something about how it isn't all THAT easy to edit a .pdf and escaped to do more work. I could also have told him that just by the number of textbooks WE get, they're hardly an endangered species. If I hadn't been so busy it might have been an interesting conversation. History changes all the time anyway as new stuff is discovered and the old only-white-males-do-anything-worth-remembering view is changed to include other genders and colors. But I hope-- and assume-- the old textbooks will be kept in some kind of archive, maybe even a nice fee online archive, so we can study what people thought. History via an infinite recursion of history textbooks.
Currently reading The Replacement. Changelings, dark fairies, beauty in gruesomeness. And a great cover picture.
You see that pop up from time to time in the eReader community: the idea that without paper, all the book scan be changed and then BAM it's 1984. It's an interesting concern, but I think it hinges on two misunderstandings.
1, electronic books CAN be kept in, say, the Amazon cloud and downloaded to a device on demand, but (in my conservative estimate) something like 20% of users download a copy onto their computer and store it in a backup area that the cloud server can't reach or modify.
2, paper books were really never immune from this. Someone could change things on the printing end and then BAM it's 1984. The only difference now is the belief that the change could happen simultaneously, everywhere, without backups to show the difference. See point #1.
My first thought was that no way would anyone pay teachers to TYPE when scanning is so cheap and relatively free of error (and which would additionally explain the destruction well enough, because the easiest way to scan a book is to destroy it in the process). Then I saw the "unemployed" part, so that was sad.
True thing, that paper books can be changed too. I was surprised to find one of my Zilpha Keatly Snyder childrens' books with "African Americans" as opposed to "negroes" in the library's much older edition. That's not a bad change or anything, to update the language so kids will know what's polite to say to other kids, but I wondered if they asked the author. She's still alive, it's not like it's Shakespeare...
Another story: We got a textbook that said on the cover in quite big letters,. "Not for the American and Canadian market. If you bought this book in the US or Canada it was sold against the publisher's wishes." I'd never seen such a thing before. Hopped over and typed the ISBN into amazon. Nuthin.
Luckily one of our resellers came in that day so I could show the book to him and get the scoop. His scanner couldn't read it either, but he's tried to sell such books before and apparently they won't even list on amazon and even eBay will delete the auction if they find it.
OMGcensorship! Ok, not really. It's a chemistry textbook, has the same info as American chemistry textbooks I assume because science works the same wherever you go, not like it's censorship of the information. Still, I hadn't known that publishers even had "territories" like this, much less that there was an entity powerful enough to enforce those territories on the internet. The idea of enforcing anything on the internet boggles my now-reformed-pirate brain.
Today we had a book entitled "Sex Party Cowboys." The cover featured a young lady, from the back, topless and in thong undies with her entire rear end visible. I hope she got paid well for that. This is hardly the first erotic novel we've ever gotten, but it wins the award for most shameless cover!
I hung onto it hoping one of our resellers would come in; I figure something like that would have a small print run and thus be worth reselling, but nobody turned up so we had to throw it away. Too bad. I hate when we have to throw a perfectly good book away, even if it's not something I'd read.