It’s in my hand. The book. It’s almost surrealistic to actually hold the product itself after such a long wait. It didn’t just pop out of nothing, of course. Gradual it was, not at all like Excalibur, Arthur’s sword.
It really started about five months ago, when I first found “Nothing Matters” on Amazon (.com., .co.uk, .fr, .ca – but not .it: what do the Italians have against nothing???) and every online bookstore I looked at. That it actually existed was now a fact, I thought serenely, until it set me on that road that asks about existence, what it is, etc. And from then to thoughts about thoughts about existence, coming to the conclusion that, let’s face it, thinking about “existence” was a piece of cake before the Internet era and the new worry about virtual existence.
But I digress…
Having the book is wonderful. I can leave it around, casually, when people happen to be passing. I can talk about nothing – which is my wont – and discover, always to my surprise – that I have a copy with me that I can show to the lucky person who is being regaled by me.
But then there is the ebook: Kindle, Nook and all the others. How can I casually leave around my ebook? And don’t get me started on ebooks and “existence”! I’m talking about life and death issues of getting people to look at everything about nothing. I have been asked jocularly – more than once, and not by the same person – how I will sign their ebook. (Meta-point: I know “their” is not strictly grammatical in that sentence, but it avoided my having to use “hs/her”). “Buy the book, the real thing,” I reply – but to myself.
So there we have it. Ebooks are great, and no doubt there will not only be more of them sold than the actual thing (which it still is for me), but at some point in the not-too-distant future, “the real thing” will be only the drink that we all know. Now THAT will never be virtual.
But Ronald,you can leave the ebook versions lying around on a thousand desktops and never have to be ‘accidental’ again.
There are various software programs that will allow you sign fans’ ebooks too. Check out this post at the NY Times
Of course that doesn’t answer the question of whether the ebooks and the signatures actually exist. But never mind, it’s nothing that’s important.
Not for nothing, as we say often in the US, it is unlikely that actual books will ever disappear completely. They may finally become objets d’art, but for quite some time yet, I have heard from the publishers of certain classic magazines, people are still fond of holding printed volumes in their hands, and savoring the aroma of type,to which I have an allergy.
I have my copy right here and have begun reading it. Too soon to say something (other than “Congratulations!”), so I’ll simply say
I found you and ordered the book. Seinfeld’s book is listed either before or after yours. When I finish reading my ebook I will leave it on a plane.
Paul, I can’t “accidentally” leave my ebook version lying around. For a start, I need to actually do an action. And apart from that, I can’t actually take them back, as I can with my book. And I could only leave parts of it, unlike the whole book that someone could flick through. Virtual is still virtual.
Just a note on the grammatical problem of the use of “their” as singular pronoun. I will never cease arguing that when the gender of the person is unspecified then the prospect of them being either male or female qualifies usage of grammatical/plural “their” to encompass plural of potential genders.
Not only do you have a right to argue that, but you also are justified in your argument – at least from usage and the social point of view. Unfortunately, prescribed grammar does not agree with you. It is, in other words, perceived to be “ungrammatical”, since “their” is not a singular pronoun.
You may, though, be mollified to know that language does change and that there is a fair chance that “their” will eventually be used as you suggest and that it will then be considered as grammatically correct.