Saturday, January 9, 2016

Books Fall Apart

Late last year a couple of books started to come apart:

  • An old Langenscheidt's German-English dictionary started to come apart. So far only the page that concludes "statuieren" and begins "Stich" has detached.
  • The cover of my copy of Programming Perl came off. (This was about the time that there was news about the more or less stable Perl 6; I resisted the temptation to see an omen and install it.)
Most of the damage was done to the Langenscheidt's about 35 years ago, and much of the damage since must have been done by age rather than wear. My copy of Programming Perl is something less than twenty years old; really it is not a book I consult much these days, unless to refresh my memory on the syntax of one or two routines. (Checking the details of Getopt::Long probably did it.)

Modern bindings can be weak. I lent a copy of Poems and Problems by Nabokov to a friend, with the understanding that she would discard rather than return it if the binding failed. She discarded it. An old Three Famous Short Novels fell apart as I reread "The Old Man" about the time of the floods brought on by Hurricane Katrina. The other week I had a look around the house for Edward Luttwalk's The Grand Strategy of the Roman Empire, but suspected that I had recycled it when the quires came loose. Maybe I and they didn't, but the book isn't here. A few other books show signs of trouble.

This bothers me less than it would have once. A book with its back damaged and leaves coming loose has at least been read.

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