. . . buying a book. At least according to Ken Kalfus’s lament. And it’s hard not to feel some sympathy as he agonizes over the pleasures of consumption, the demands of cultural duty, and both the real and imaginary rewards of reading.
It takes me about a week and a half to read the typical book. I don’t know how many ten-day spans I have left. Eventually the unread books on my shelves will have to be abandoned, or they will join me on the pyre. The book I’m about to purchase may be among them. We all buy books we won’t live to read. These surplus, unexperienced books represent a sizable part of the literary profit margin, such as it is. Writers, publishers, and bookstores depend on them.