Saturday, July 21, 2012

We Will Read No Book Before Its Time

Have you heard about El Libro que No Puede Esperar? That title is translated to English as “The Book That Cannot Wait.” Y’know that pile of books next to your bed, or desk, or couch, that seems to get larger instead of smaller?  How about all of those books you bought for your e-reader that you’ll never live to read (but you keep buying more of )? El Libro que No Puede Esperar  is an innovation that is supposed to break you of the habit through behavior modification.

El Libro que No Puede Esperar is an anthology of original short stories which has been published in Argentina. It is printed in…disappearing ink. You buy it shrink-wrapped, but once the buyer (and prospective reader) tears the plastic off the ink will fade and disappear after two months. And if you actually open the book and start reading,  each page that you read is further exposed to air, so that the disappearance process accelerates. Read a page today, and the print on that page will disappear in two weeks. The owner of the book is ultimately left with a bunch of hardbound blank pages to use as a journal, or to doodle on, or for perhaps another use or two which I can think of but won’t mention. Yes, you could buy the thing and leave it shrink-wrapped for eternity, but then you’d have one of those Schrodinger’s Cat situations going on, so what would be the point? That might be a bad question to ask a guy with 20,000 comic books in his house, but that’s another topic for another time.   

The idea behind this whole thing is to encourage people who buy El Libro que No Puede Esperar to actually read it. It is apparently doing very well in Argentina and the previously unpublished authors who were con…er, I mean, whose stories were selected for inclusion in this collection are also enjoying a certain notoriety. 

I am not making this up. Am I missing something here? Does this appeal to you? Or does it leave you as cold as it does me? If you would buy a book like this, what would you be willing to pay for it? And authors…would you want a story in a collection in this format? For myself, I want to read a book when I want to read a book, and if I buy it, I’m not going to be forced into reading it under threat of disappearing ink. But that’s just me. What do you think? Does this format, or whatever you want to call it, have legs? Or has its time gone before it has arrived?

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  1. Wow. What a really ridiculous notion! It devalues the written word, the author's time & passion, as if the paper left behind is more important. Designed to cure readers of having a TBR pile? Try writing a really good book. That would work better than a silly gimmick. Waste of paper, waste of money & shrink wrap. Guess these folks don't go to libraries either. Due dates & overdue fees should be enough inspiration for you to read the book you checked out.

    Have a good Saturday, Joe. Thanks for the eye rolling post. Truly amazing.

  2. Marketing 101; To increase the success of a product, always utilize built-in obsolescence. In some strange, twisted way, I think it's brilliant.

  3. Brilliant for the disappearing ink guys. Ha!

  4. It's a very creative response/cure for a problem that will never go away. If I lived in my perfect ideal world, all I would ever do is sit around reading, writing and teaching my lab and mastiff to be the most impressive dogs in the world. Unfortunately I don't, I live in a world where adults (most adults) have responsibilities. I love my TBR pile because some days I look up and see that I made it through one or two of them. Yep, there's amillion more to go through, but they're still waiting for me either in print or on my kindle. Not saying that I would, but if I bought the book, after the ink disappeared I would probably have to find the person who came up with it and repay the favor in some creative annoying way.

  5. It's probably popular with the people who made Pet Rocks a huge fad!

  6. What does anybody care if I don't get through my TBR pile? OK, I can see an argument for a paper stack of TBR books, because that's taking up valuable living space, a thought foremost on my mind as hard economic times force smaller living spaces.

    But if my Kindle is stuffed to the gills, who cares? I can hide it under my pillow.

    It's slightly appealing that this gimmick book could be re-used as a journal--but then that leads to the other living space notion--I'm trying to STOP writing things down on paper and go electronic. So again, it's a no-sell for me.

    But I'm sure there are those to whom it would appeal. It just wouldn't grab me as a reader or a writer. If it takes people 50 years to read my story, I don't care. It's up to them.

  7. I find it intriguing. Kind of like DRM for paper. forces us to read, but then I'd definitely use the left over as a journal or such. To be honest, I'd buy at least a couple of these before the fad goes the way of all fads.

  8. I love this! Before I go any further, however, thanks again Jordan for tweeting my post out into the ether. My daughter doesn't tweet so she can't show me anything. I'm afraid I'll send out something I don't want to. Anyway, thank you. Again.

    I love the difference of opinion here. Starr, Jordan, and BK, I'm with you, but I can certainly take Joe and Basil's point from a marketing standpoint. And Kathryn, this is definitely this year's pet rock. I've also got a basement full of beanie babies competing for space with the comics. I think I'm too old to be collecting anything else.

    Somewhat off topic, but speaking of collectables (Basil), I have a fanboy friend who has a Captain America Jack-in-the-Box. I guess a book where the print disappears isn't so far fetched after all.

    Hope you all are enjoying your weekend and reading before the print disappears. Thanks!

  9. How about a book with disappearing ink that's written on bio-degradable toilet paper? Talk about double dooty.

  10. The thing that hit me right off about publishing was the long wait to get in and then the short amount of time the book was placed out front in stores. You get like two weeks or a month to hit or be called a miss. Every month another wave hits stores. That after a year working on a book and a year waiting for it to be out.

  11. Uh, Jordan...

    John, what you describe is especially a problem with mass market paperbacks and as their allotted space in the retail stores appears to be shrinking it will only get worse. The same is true in music to a great degree, unless your name is Adele; the lion's share of your sales is going to occur in the first couple of weeks, in most cases.

  12. It has a certain performance art tang to it like the chalk art on the streets in Paris or sand sculptures. Part of the appeal is the fleeting beauty of it.

    But as a reader, meh . . .

    Sometimes life intervenes and I can't read for a week or two. I'm going to be torqued if the story I was into disappeared while I was dealing with a family illness or leaking roof or overtime at work.


  13. This sounded pretty weird to me but I started thinking about what this might lead to... the e-book version. A self-deleting e-book perhaps? OR... what about an e-book that sells for a low price of say $4 or less, but will self-delete after one read? Take it one step further. If you really liked the book, you pay an additional fee and get to keep your copy forever.

  14. Terri, I know just what you mean. You'd be okay if you didn't take the shrinkwrap off, if you didn't plan to read the book right away, but what if you unwrapped it at some point down the road and started reading, and something else came up (as it too often does)? You're hosed.

    Jamie, this might be an idea that could be applied to something else. Sell one hundred advance copies of an eagerly anticipated novel at a reduced rate.The initial gateway fee gives the reader the privilege of the advance look. Upon completion, the purchaser gets the opportunity to retain the book for an additional fee; otherwise the book disappears. Hmm...