* Bowker says that “276,649 new titles and editions” appeared in the U.S. in 2007, up slightly from the year before. So Many Books: Reading and Publishing in an Age of Abundance, anyone? (Note: I haven’t actually read Gabriel Zaid’s book yet). And where’s the space for mine? Perhaps being taken up by Tolkien reprints, leading to the next item…
* Nick Owchar reports on still more efforts to wring cash out of J.R.R. Tolkien. The good news, however, is that the publication of Tales from the Perilous Realm will “gather […] several of the master’s shorter works–“Farmer Giles of Ham,” “Leaf by Niggle,” “Smith of Wootton Major” and “Roverandom”–as well as a book of poems, “The Adventures of Tom Bombadil.”” In other words, this will make it far easier for those of us who study Tolkien and avoid perhaps the foul smell of Children of Húrin.
* My dream, achieved by someone else. He has 30,000, and I only 260 – 270. It’s not the size, but how you use it, right?
(Hat tip ALN.)
* More personal library reflections from the Wall Street Journal:
I still possess a great many books. I’m not a book collector, though, not at all — and much less a bibliophile. The discreet charms of the first edition have always eluded me, although I can appreciate a nicely bound volume — as a consequence I own many second and third printings, which generally cost about 95% less. When I have a choice I go for interesting jackets, elegant typefaces, acid-free paper, but above all I prize compactness. Whenever possible I go for omnibus editions. The more books can fit in a single volume, the happier I am. And I mourn the passing of the pocket-sized paperback, which was once allowed to contain all sorts of material and is now strictly reserved for the kinds of books that inspire gold-embossed titles and peekaboo die-cuts. I like to carry books in my pockets, and trade paperbacks are an awkward fit, except in the dead of winter.
Anyway, I like the entire variety of books: thin little plaquettes, 16-volume histories, drugstore potboilers, privately printed crank pamphlets, ancient volumes in unknown languages, sleek new art editions with lots of white on the pages, forgotten doctoral dissertations from German universities in the 1880s, pornography bought by sailors in Tijuana, technical publications with wildly recondite diagrams… I remember a cartoon I saw as a child in which the books jumped off the shelves and had themselves a party in the bookstore in the middle of the night.
* XKCD strikes with this comic.