I checked a book out of my local library the other day, and when I went to read it I discovered that someone had been there before me, littering the words and sentences with sharp lines and emphatic scrawls. Not a rare occurrence in my life, to be sure, but one that always makes me think the vandal (or vandals in this case, if the three different colors of emboldened ink are indeed evidence of serial abuse) is revealing something deeply disturbing about themselves in this simple, narcissistic, and completely self-absorbed anti-social act.
It’s tempting to let my ire run free about this, equating such people to pedophiles or terrorists, but of course that would be hyperbole. It’s a book that’s being murdered, not a human being. So let me pull back from the raging abyss and say calmly that I think people who write in library books are not inherently violent. No. I think, rather, that they belong to the caste of criminals and gutter trash who would rather slink through life than admit their dysfunction directly.
- Con artists
- Animal abusers
- Identity thieves
- Craigslist advertisers
- Television news readers
- Tax cheats
I could go on, I’m sure, but the point I really want to make about these yellow-bellied cowards is that they may soon be unable to leave steaming piles of their own failed morality in desecrated publicly-owned texts. Because one of the great advantages and selling points of the e-book movement may be that our fellow citizens will no longer be able to deface these products that we all pay for and are expected to share.
Not to mention what it’s going to do to the book-burning industry.
— Mark Barrett