Or at least, old books that are out of print. Just how useful is reviewing books that only a small amount of people will be able to find and/or read? For instance, since I’ve started this blog I’ve reviewed a number of out-of-print books, including one that’s going for about $35 used. While some people might be willing to buy a $0.01 book from Amazon based on my review, who’s going to buy a $35 one? And that’s just if they can find it– I’ve reviewed at least one book that I’m pretty sure can’t be found anywhere except on Paperback Swap where I’ve put it (and where it’s been sitting for six months unrequested).
Out-of-print books, even ones that just recently went out of print, are tricky things to review. On the one hand, I know that giving the book some publicity is a good thing. On the other hand, when the book has been out of print for 30 years and no-one has read it and no-one but me is reviewing it, then I ask you: what’s the point? It’s almost as useless as a meme post, except that memes get at least a little conversation going.
I suppose my point is that I’m not sure what to do. I’ve got all these old books I dug up in library books sales and such, and I want to read them and review them, but I’m almost not sure it’s worth my time. I’m a book blogger, see, and I’ve been one for so long now that I’m associating reading a book with reviewing it. And then I associate reviews with blog readers, and then with comments and conversation. It’s turned into a kind of Pavlovian thing. So if I don’t review a book, then why the heck did I bother reading it in the first place? There’ll be nothing and to talk about and no-one to talk with except my own mnd. So I have to review it if I want that people connection, but if it’s an obscure book then and no-one else has read it and can’t find it to read– then– then–
Oh, I don’t know. I think I’ve wound myself into knots. There’s all that up there, but then on top of it I feel sort of bad for out-of-print obscure books that aren’t getting any publicity. It’s like they’ve been forgotten, and that’s terrible. But is it so terrible that it’s worth my time to read/review them? I don’t know.
Have I made any sort of sense here? What do you think about reviewing out-of-print books? It’s nearly completely different from reviewing old books that are still in print (classics, for instance). The fact that they’re old isn’t holding anyone back from reading/reviewing them because they’re available nearly everywhere. But an old book where only a few copies exist and they’re all horribly expensive? GAH. This is turning into madness.
The only bright point I can see is that if I do review old/obscure books and someone, one day, Googles the title because they found a copy and read it, too, then maybe a connection will have formed. But it’s an awful like throwing a note in a bottle out into the ocean.
Picture from Pictures from Old Books.