Cutting Out a Book is Not A Capital Offense

Because I have nothing better to talk about today, I’m going to spend some time talking about one of my pet peeves: Whenever somebody posts a picture like this one:

There is, always, some alleged bibliophile in the comments who bitches about how somebody just destroyed a book.

And it’s getting fucking old.

I am a writer. I am a lover of books. I have a great collection of books that I have held on to and bought, despite needing money for food, shoes, clothes, and more important things. I hoard books. I love them. I give them away like candy for birthdays and holidays. My credentials are pristine.

I don’t give a fuck if you carve up a book.

People who complain about books being hollowed out are seemingly under the delusion that books are still made by asexual monks locked away in cathedral basements, clicking away on old Remingtons or scrawling away by hand until the copy is finished.

They’re not. They’re made by machines like this one:

Courtesy of The Science Channel

Big, huge machines in big, huge lines in big, huge industrial factories all over the world, factories that work 24 hours a day, making millions upon millions upon millions of copies of books.

There is nothing personal about the actual physical copy of the book itself. The story is special, absolutely. But every single printed copy of the book could spontaneously combust, and the story would still exist because, if nothing else, the author saved it on their hard drive.

The book doesn’t matter. The story does.

If I had to guess, there are at least a few dozen million copies of The Fault in Our Stars in print. So, if you buy a copy special to hollow out to engage to your significant other (or just to stick a flask in), you didn’t destroy a book. You paid for John Green’s coffee this week. I’m sure he’ll thank you.

No harm was done to the story.

No harm was done to the author.

No harm was done to the publishing industry.

No harm was done to anybody!

So stop bitching about it. Please.

Zach J. Payne is a poet, novelist, and thespian; a lover of languages and purveyor of useless knowledge. He is an assistant at Ninja Writers and interns for Pam Howell at D4EO Literary Agency. You can find him on Twitter and Instagram at ZachJPayne. If you enjoyed this article, please click the little green heart.

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