Portland’s Microcosm Publishing store is offering to trade unwanted, Christmas-given Kindles for their value in new or used books and magazines of the paper variety.
The silly, pseudoliterary pretense of the ad had me in stitches.
I ♥ Books
Upfront, let me say that I do not own an ereader and I have no interest in one. I have tons of books, and only a handful of them do I simultaneously own as audiobooks for consumption during long road trips.
Even so, I understand that the literature is the text, not the wood pulp on which it is printed. I love books, sure, but I don’t confuse this with my love of good writing. The weird, idolatrous degree of fixation among some “literature lovers” on wood products is not at all about loving literature. It’s just sentimental fogey-ism.
I should know, because I am also a sentimental fogey for books. And, I love good literature. But I know the difference between the two. And, since I know the difference, I am not what the experts at MPFC would call a “silly person.”
Here’s a line from the ad that made me laugh out loud: “Do you want to trade in your soulless faux-literary technology for its worth in good old fashioned books?” Loving the written word regardless of medium is “faux-literary” but loving a medium for its physical characteristics is (I presume they mean, by contrast) genuinely literary? F—king absurd.
And, if you think I’m jumping to a conclusion about the pseudo-literary fetishism of this scheme of trading ereaders for books, let me grace you with another quote from the announcement: “We love the and grain and pulp (sic). Long live the grain and pulp! Long live the PAGE.”
Does the page need to have anything on it?
Businesses ♥ $
Now, let’s get down to economic brass tacks. Does anyone believe Microcosm is going to take a customer’s ereader, hand over a couple hundred dollars worth of books, and then destroy the ereader?!
Of course they’re not!** They are going to resell the ereaders, which will actually accelerate the transition from books to ebooks because, unlike the disgruntled giftees, the new owners will have chosen the ereaders for themselves, which means they plan to use them.
All of which makes Microcosm’s “Thanks for helping to keep print alive!” look pretty hypocritical.
The only thing any Luddite who trades in their Kindle for a cart of paperware has accomplished is to fall for a very clever—and quite misleading—marketing scheme. Those couple hundred dollars in books you paid for with your ereaders represent a couple hundred dollars you might not have paid for with cash money.
Far from valiantly shoring up the world of print from encroaching ebooks, Microcosm is simply trying to get book fetishists to buy more than they ordinarily would have, or could have.
In a way (an unethical sort of way) Microcosm can be admired for their business acumen, but anyone who indignantly dumps an ereader that could have given them access to thousands of books so they can pat themselves on the back as Defenders of the Literary over the two dozen books they cart home while Microcosm staff posts their abandoned Kindle on Ebay?
Not so much.
* They simply say “zines” because they are hep to the jazzy lingo and all that.
** If someone can show me evidence of an official ereader smashing ceremony by Microcosm staff, my sincerest apologies.