Books Pay a Steep Price

“Upcyclers” are still trashing books — and their champion gains influence.

You know who I saw on the TV this weekend? Gracing a news show as if he was some kind of trusted authority figure, rather than the scurrilous villain Wretched readers know him to be? It was…
Matthew Yglesias.

matthew-yglesias-devilThat’s right! Matthew Yglesias the Anti-Bookite! Matthew Yglesias the Blithe Befouler of Buckram! Sitting there blabbing about the economy like some kind of distinguished correspondent for Slate who’d written for the Atlantic, ThinkProgress and the American Prospect and published two books of his own! Which, OK, I guess he is.


He’s also the guy who wrote that books were “technologically obsolete,” a “dying industry,” and that “the only real value of physical books at this point is a kind of nostalgia-soaked experience.”

In other words, he’s an archvillain.

Maybe Yglesias would like it if someone took a few of his most-thumbed books and turned them into “nostalgia-soaked experiences.” Like, say, this:


It’s the John Maynard Keynes pencil cup! Yes, what we have here is Keynes’ A Treatise on Money stripped of its binding, punched through with holes and made into a place to store pencils. (Which are even more obsolete than books, when you think about it. If anything, we should be turning a bunch of pencils into a bookcase.)

Or how about repurposing another title from Yglesias’ shelf…

It’s the Joseph Stiglitz Necklace! What’s cuter than a necklace carved from the pages of Globalization and Its Discontents? Great for spurring conversation on a first date.

Or we could bring an economic twist to another trendy fugfest — er, nostalgia trip: Book planters.

The Wealth of Nations Bulb Starter:

Book-Planter-3As you can see, this is actually made from The Asphalt Handbook, because when you think “darling planter,” you think “asphalt handbook.”

The Aftershock Cactus Caddy:


The “Matthew Yglesias’ Undergrad Reading List” Window Box:


Stop the madness.


2 responses to “Books Pay a Steep Price

  1. I’ve never quite understood the attraction to books for the sake of them being books. Sure, really old ones might look pretty on a bookshelf (if you’re into that sort of thing) but the instant you open them they’ll fall apart. They’ve lost most practical use by that stage, so they’re only just there for aesthetic value – or perhaps the hipster cred of saying you’ve bought old copies of stuff you have no intention of reading from second-hand stores. I’d argue that being turned into a plant pot is a comparatively more dignified end.

    • I see your points. I feel rather divided myself on whether books should be treasured as objects — that’s why I try to take an over-the-top tone in these posts. I do think that we should respect well-designed objects instead of just wantonly hacking away at them. I think it’s actually a deeply environmentalist idea to revere good objects. It often comes down to the pure aesthetic value of the new creation, which is of course largely subjective. Which is a long way of saying that those planters are horrid! I’m sorry but you are just wrong about that one! 🙂

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