Monday, July 23, 2012

Remember That Disappearing Reappearing Ink from "Who Framed Roger Rabbit"?

This ink doesn't reappear.

Considering the first edition of this book went out at the end of June, I'm a little behind the times.  But I ain't exactly CNN here, folks.

This is the deal: A small publishing company in Argentina created a new type of ink (that resembles something Dan Aykroyd got hosed down with in Ghostbusters 2).  The ink reacts to air and light exposure (hence the reason this book is sold in an over-sized condom packet), essentially giving you a two month deadline to read the book . . . before you can't anymore.


At first glance, I was like, "giiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiimmiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiick."

Now I'm like, "yeah, still a gimmick, but with fewer vowels."  The decrease in the number of vowels means that I don't think it's as much bullshit as I originally did.

While the book reminds me, for some reason, of those rubbery toys you put in water that GROW UP TO 10 TIMES THEIR ORIGINAL SIZE, I both understand and respect the message the company is trying to convey . . . with a gimmick.

I see a trip to the Dollar Tree in my future. Source
People (well, crazy book hoarding people like myself) usually don't read a book the day they get it.  Sometimes, they don't even read it that same year.  And while that's all well and good for big names (Stephen King, John Grisham, Nora Roberts, etc.) who already have a guaranteed readership for their next 23.6 books, writers just starting out kinda get the shaft.

By the time you finally get around to reading Newbie McBrilliant Newberson's freshman piece of genius, Newbie could be back to hawking used Nissans at Big Bob's Bargain Car Basement (let's not focus on the logistics of putting cars in a basement).  No one ever read Newbie's book/short story collection/commercialism-and-cars-based poetry until it was too late.  No second book deal for Newbie, and no sophomore piece of genius for you.

What doth I have to do to get thee into yonder 2002 Maxima? Source 
This book, aptly titled El Libro que No Puede Esperar--The Book That Can't Wait, aims to end the thoughtless ignoring of Newbie McBrilliant Newbersons everywhere (or at least in countries south of the border).  It features pieces from virtually unknown Latin American authors.  Unfortunately, for people like me, it's written entirely in Spanish.  (I took French; I'm fancy like that.)

SEE?  It makes everything more fancy! Source
Also, it's not on Amazon at the moment.  No, I'm not surprised . . . alright, I WAS surprised initially (because everything is on Amazon), but when I stopped to think about it--small, independent publishing company in Argentina, condom packaging, etc., it made more sense.

My issue, and one of the issues I've seen others mention, is that readers like to re-read good books.  (If they're not good books, I ship them off to Half Price, and recycle my new-found wealth right back into the clearance section.)  But with this book, all that's left after reading it is a cover full of blank pages.  Did you like those stories?  Well I hope for your sake that the authors have or will put out ACTUAL books . . . that or you have an eidetic memory.  Plus, if you're the "I loan books I like to my friends" type, you (and your friends) are shit out of luck.

Back to checking out books with questionable stains from the library Source
Again, I love the notion behind this; encouraging readers to give unknown authors a shot is a wonderful idea that hits close to my heart.  I also think that as far as gimmicks go, this one is pretty nifty.  I can't deny that I'd love to take daily pictures of a page in the book and document the fading pattern, BUT I'm also cheap and unhealthily attached to my Kindle.

And speaking of Kindles, self-eBook publishing is becoming a major thing now, and I think that might be a better way for a fledgling author to get a shot.  Gimmicks, by their nature, don't last, and I'd want to hitch my wagon to a train that would be around for a long time.

Oh Gak, we hardly knew ye. Source
Plus, as a writer, I'd find something innately disturbing about watching my words fade away.  It's like some horrible metaphor about mortality--human and authorial.  WHY MUST YOU REMIND ME THAT NO ONE WILL REMEMBER ME, BOOK?


  1. please disregard the following incoherent babbling (i'm currently in a state of stage 5 nerd-out):

    despite its gimmicky nature, i am completely taken with this book. i think it's the bib methods/textual studies geek in me--i mean, what must this book do to reader experience?!

    sure, you can keep it on your bookshelf forever as long as it stays in its "over-sized condom packet", but once it's opened, it's gone. a reader has to be effected by that. jerome mcgann eat your heart out...

    i wish they were available, because i would totally buy one, rip off the wrapper and read it frantically (because i took spanish, ha!)...only to be left with what i assume would be the biggest bib-nerd hangover ever, which would slowly disappear...like the words on the freaking page!

  2. Hey, I'm GLAD I could cause a stage 5 nerd-out, and if I ever see it available (and not some abhorrent price) in the US, you'll be the first to know.

    The reader experience is an interesting idea. Do you read something more carefully, maybe savor it more if you know you won't be able to refer back to it? Maybe you make notes on the pages which will still be there after the ink fades; memories of a story past.

    They show a person or two on the video smelling the ink. I have to admit, I'd totally do that . . . you know, for science, or something.

  3. What all things relating to this book fail to mention, is that publishing contracts are given out based on the sells a book achieves, not on how many people actually read the book. It just needs to sell well for a fledgling author to receive a contract for a second book. And since books can take years to write and publish, that means by the time I pick up that fledgling author's dusty book off my shelf and finally read it, I will be just in time to buy his sophomore publication and let it age a bit before finally succumbing to it right before the third book is proffered up for me to read. That is assuming, said author actually had more than one astounding book in them.
    And let's be real here, this day and age almost any crap can be published by someone (even self-published on Amazon.) Do we really need a self-disappearing book to make us read? But on the bright side, if the writing stinks, just set the book down and wait a few months to pick it back up and be given a blank slate for thoughts of your own.


  4. Hey, I myself sing a song written long ago by Linda Ronstadt, "Lo Siento Mi Vida." It's got two verses in Spanish, and one bridge in English. And I still remember the lyrics after all these years, and...in some circles, Music Night in Fort Worth, for example, there are personages who request it and love it every time I bring it out reluctantly, and so I am reacquainted each time with it's innate preciousness and sweetness. Does THAT count, among all you nerdy Englishmajorphyles?