Oct 11, 2007

On Bibliovandalism and Selfish Ignorami

Left: A textual abomination

On occasion I will purchase used books, only to find that one of the previous owners has marked up the text with highlighter or some other implement of penmanship. While I have never been one to mark up a book, I suppose that ownership brings with it certain prerogatives, and as merely the latest in a chain of book owners, far be it from me to be critical.

I do protest, however, when I come across a library book upon which some blithering fool has etched lines, illegible scribbling, and other post-printing desecration to a text that is supposed to be public property. The accompanying photograph is from a book by historian Roger Mettam entitled Power and Faction in Louis XIV's France, which takes a contrarian stance to the idea that the Sun King's reign was exemplary of early modern absolutism.

At some point in the book's sixteen-year lifespan at the University of Toledo's Carlson Library, one of the readers decided that their needs outweighed those of other readers, especially those who: a) dislike books being marked up; or b) might not mind a book with a few choice highlighting efforts, but who do not agree with the wholesale underlining of entire paragraphs.

Thus, throughout the first few chapters of this book I have to cope with the heavy black Scripto marks that occasionally run through words the ham-fisted imbecile intended to underline. Given my aforementioned preference for books without marks, I find myself increasingly irritated and distracted by this literary outrage, and thoughts go through my head of what I would do to this person with a red Sharpie marker were I to locate and corner said churlish dolt.


Historychic said...

That is one of my pet peeves. I will never understand why people mark up books the way they do, especially a book from a library.

togakure ryu said...

Well, unless it was owned by them. Which in your case it was not. I hate that too. If they are going to do that, why not use their brains and go buy the cliff notes to the book (provided they exist)?

What irks me more than this is when sellers on Amazon sell used books and say that they are in new or excellent condition and when you get the book(s) they are in horrible condition.

Mad Jack said...

Again, an example of the "Me!" culture. The library exists for my convenience, the books are available for me to check out, I am doing the library a favor by my patronage, and if I want to make notes in this book, I will. Mainly because the thought of other people as they do not relate to royal me never crosses my narrow mind.

Was that over the top? I can never tell.

JQ said...

I sympathize with you. I never mark in a text. I keep a separate journal for notes, questions and so forth.