Wednesday, April 4, 2012


Every so often the Edward R. Hamilton people brighten my day by dropping off their latest catalogue of remainders, publishers’ overstocks, and assorted other “book porn” for me to salivate over. I take out my pen and make little marks next to all the books I’d buy if time, money and space were infinite, and even if I never buy a single one I still consider it an evening well spent.

This does have its odd side, though.

No, really, it does. Hard as that may be for you to believe, but it does.

Well, I suppose pretty much all of it is odd when I think about it. I could be using that time to drink at bars or watch large men fight over a small ball or surf the web for new and ever more inappropriate images to increase the virus load on my computer – you know, manly stuff like that. But no. I am what I am, and my downtime is spent on books.

But not all books.

Because one of the things that catalogues like ERH prove even more than the fact that I need a real hobby is that there are many, many people on this planet who will write about just about anything. And more than that? That someone will publish those books.

The Magnificent Millard Fillmore?


I can understand someone writing this book. People have all sorts of odd little fascinations, and with the advent of word processing software a lot of the physical barriers to writing have fallen away. People natter on about everything. That’s what the internet is all about. But publishing costs money. Publishing represents an investment of time, labor and financial resources that need to be recovered.

In short, someone in a publishing house somewhere looked at that proposal and said, “Yes! That’s what the book market needs – a new full-length biography of our thirteenth president! A forgotten man, that president! I’ll bet we could make a killing on that!”

Well, yes, he was forgotten. Even in his own time, I’ll bet that nobody ever once called him “Magnificent,” not even his mother.

And to judge from the ERH catalogue price – which is just barely enough to cover the storage fees to have these volumes taking up room in a warehouse – he remains forgotten even to this day.

Someone should write a book about that.

1 comment:

John the Scientist said...

I think the publisher thought it was a collection of Mallard Fillmore cartoons.