Monday, August 27, 2007
A Real book.

I got this e-mail and picture a while back, and I thought I might share it.


I don't know if The Name of the Wind will survive long enough for me to
finish it!

My (Your? The? Our?) book arrived with the front cover ripped loose from
the binding. I figured that leaving the poor thing in a metal mailbox
for a day melted the glue or something. I live in a blast furnace, you
see, so I sort of expect mail-order stuff to be damaged.

That night I took my book with me into the bathtub which is dangerous, I
know. But nothing beats foo-foo bubbles and a good book I say, and even
if you drop the book in the tub it's *usually* salvageable and smells
pretty too!

But THIS book stained my hands purple. I usually read paperbacks
because they are more manageable (and I'm cheap) but the few hardcovers
that I've taken along on bathtub adventures have never turned my damp
hands strange colors. Yours just hates me, I think.

And finally, I dropped it today and when it hit the floor, it just gave
up. The entire cover went one way, the pages went the other, and I said
a nasty word.

It's been patched up with duct tape but I'm still wary. If it decides
to spontaneously combust or something I won't be terribly surprised.

Thanks a lot, and I really am loving the book. :)


I'm sure there's a moral in this story somewhere, but I don't know what it is.

I will admit that at one point in my life the thought of my book being destroyed would have filled me with mute horror. But that's not really how I felt when I heard this story. This isn't a book that was destroyed by Fedex. This was the story of a book that went down in the call of duty. This is the story of a brave soldier who fought the good fight.

With this in mind, I asked Lisa to send me a picture of the book and she was nice enough to oblige:

If I had any doubts, they were laid to rest by the Strawberry Shortcake band-aid. This book hasn't been destroyed, it has been loved. This is the Velveteen Rabbit of books.

For those of you who live sad lives, here's passage from the Velveteen Rabbit that explains what I'm talking about.

"What is REAL?" asked the Rabbit one day[...] "Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?"

"Real isn't how you are made," said the Skin Horse. "It's a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real."

"Does it hurt?" asked the Rabbit.

"Sometimes," said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. "When you are Real you don't mind being hurt."

"Does it happen all at once, like being wound up," he asked, "or bit by bit?"

"It doesn't happen all at once," said the Skin Horse. "You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand."

This is a Real book.

Later all,


posted by Pat at


Blogger Ashok K. said...

Well, I got my copy of the hardcover via Fedex and it was in pristine condition--I'm only a few chapters in but am enjoying it. Of course, I haven't taken it into the bath, especially since I don't think it's built to withstand showers, but I might have gotten a spot of Ferroro Roche gelato on one page. Sorry!

What I like about Daw's hardcovers is they don't stint on font size, leading, kerning and margins the way some genre publishers do to bring the page count down. In most cases, I'd wait for the paperback or order the UK hardcover edition simply because shipping is cheaper from there, but when it's a Daw book, I don't think twice.

Oh, and it came all the way from the US of A to aamchi Mumbai (our Bombay) here in India. So don't write them overnighters off yet, Pat.

August 27, 2007 6:39 AM  
Blogger Hob Gammidge said...

That's really sweet. I like that she's loved that book and wanted to mend its hurts. I wonder if she snuggles with it at night too...that'd be something to have a picture of.

August 27, 2007 7:12 AM  
Anonymous Frank said...

My copy was shipped across the Atlantic, it came in a nicely padded envelope and only had a little dent. This was a great relief, because I try to keep my books as pristine as possible.

It simply looks awful and rips my heart out to see how some people treat books while reading them - breaking their spines, bending pages... ouch.

But there is another, quite mundane reason for that: books turn into collectors' items. The other day I read that a first edition copy of the first Harry Potter book in mint condition sold for 10,000 pounds. And I think that NOTW is on the right track to get there, too.

August 27, 2007 7:43 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

"The Velveteen Rabbit" always made me horribly sad as a child -- that somehow, I was hurting my toys by not loving them enough or by loving them too much....

On the other hand, there's a stuffed horse now who is terribly, terribly REAL. And while I was taught to keep books safe and in good condition, as a writer I think I'd rather see one REAL with use and enjoyment than minty fresh with dust and utterly unread.

(But as a collector, I'd like to discover those pristine copies, too!)

August 27, 2007 8:58 AM  
Anonymous Frank said...

Well, yes, they have to be read. And there is a certain type of book you always carry around at a certain age: The Catcher in the Rye, On the Road, stuff like that. You constantly re-read them on every occasion, try to find truth and explanations in them for the world that just doesn't want to understand 16- or 17-year olds.

Would I carry NOTW around with me now? Maybe the second or third installment, when Kvothe is more mature. It will be THE most anticipated read for next spring, if not next year, on my 2008 list. Though I must say that heavy books always mush the fruit I take with me to work for second breakfast... And that is not good book treatment.

August 27, 2007 11:45 AM  
Blogger Mary J. said...

This post has been removed by the author.

August 27, 2007 2:59 PM  
Blogger Mary J. said...

I have mixed feelings about this... I have books that are in, what I like to think of as, a very loved condition.
I keep checking The Name of the Wind out from the library to read it. My two copies that were bought to support what I hope will be Pat's long and prolific writing career (one each of the US covers, 1st edition, graciously signed by Pat with Elodin quotes!) are wrapped individually in plastic, packed in bubble wrap in a sealed cardboard box. No touch! Someday I assume I will be in possession of extremely valuable books that I will never be able to part with...
I plan to buy the paperback to read the heck out of as soon as it's available. I don't deliberately break spines and such but sometimes unavoidably sad things happen to my favorites... :-'( I think it is a pain that all but the most fastidious readers know.

August 27, 2007 3:00 PM  
Blogger Amanda said...

That's wonderful.
I love Real books. My closet/library is a testament to them.

August 27, 2007 3:01 PM  
Anonymous Josie said...

I try my hardest to keep my books in good condition, but I have to agree that sometimes things happen to them that are out of my control. My copy of TNOTW is in surprisingly good condition. It went to school with me for almost a week, and traveled to the Bahamas (Although it didn't leave the carry-on bag. I was trying to get my father to read it, to no avail.)

I'm one of those people who want to cry when they see books that have been mistreated, but I can't stand to get a book just to have it. I buy books to read them, not for them to sit on my shelves and look pretty. I feel like they're being neglected if I leave them to sit there. So in the end I have to try for a happy medium.

August 27, 2007 3:45 PM  
Blogger Melissa said...

When we did our NotW cosplay, I accidentally dropped my copy of Robin Hobb's "Ship of Magic" on the ground outside my vehicle at one of the locations we shot at. Halfway home, I realized it was missing. We went back for it and found it (yay!!!) on the ground, but we'd already ran it over. The spine had tears, but the book was still solid. I guess Robin took one for the team.

August 27, 2007 3:50 PM  
Blogger Kelly Swails said...

Pat: This is the best frickin' picture of your book I've seen yet! I have two daydreams that run through my head on this very topic: one is getting Stephen King to sign my old, beat-up, worn-out, pages-falling-out, spine-broken-in-a-hundred-places, pages-crinkled-from-being-dunked-in-the-tub-copy of The Stand. The other is someone doing that to me with a copy of my own book twenty years from now. Both scenarios make me tear up a bit.

P.S. Received your book the other day. It's on the TBR (to be read) pile. :)

August 27, 2007 7:07 PM  
Anonymous John said...

I like the point about real books.

Actually, I borrowed a copy of Name of the Wind from a friend and promply trashed it, reading it a thousand times, reading it aloud to my brothers, and making my parents and siblings read it. We had to buy him a new copy. :P

Another Real book of mine is Young Miles...I've taken that thing on camping trips, the cover is falling off, the pages are stained with food and other the aformentioned friend said above, that book has been "well loved."

August 27, 2007 7:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I never thought of saving my 1st edition NOTW copy of the book in mint condition. I've read mine so many times that I have food and coffee spills on the pages, and places where I have underlined and highlighted for reference.
To me, that is a book that is well loved. Those of my books who do have these kinds of markings, means that I do not read them often or that I read them once and did not like them.

August 28, 2007 4:28 AM  
Blogger Haplo Peart said...

The book collector in me wants to scream at such book treatment. However I am not the keep em perfect type either by any imagination. I nearly always buy my books hard cover (the exceptions being series/authors that are new to me and I am "catching up"), when I read them the dust jacket goes on the shelf in library I let the cover take the abuse. The only "perfect" books I have are ones that were bought to replace the over used ones, usually paperbacks from my youth that I have now tracked down the hardcovers of, or the publisher has only just now released a hardcover (Dragonlance was one such series).

August 28, 2007 12:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, my book's spine came apart as well. And I take very good care of my books. I don't lay them open face down or bend the edges. I just don't know how it happened to my NOTW book.

What is the best way to mend this? Does anyone think some of the batches of books are made more cheap?


August 29, 2007 7:15 AM  
Blogger Pat said...

The book club version are made more cheaply. But sometimes even the regular versions have a problem, or they're damaged while being shipped to the bookstores.

August 29, 2007 12:01 PM  
Blogger Carolyn H said...

My copy of Name of the Wind fell apart too, Pat. More specifically, the back cover was already ripped apart from the pages when I bought it. I didn't discover this until the next day, of course, in the car on my way home from Colorado. I attempted to read it anyway, and the weight of the pages eventually ripped off the front cover connection too, so now my book is coverless. Wibble. It hasn't been 30 days since I bought it though; should I trade it for a new copy or keep it? I don't think it counts as a Real book since it was already half destroyed upon purchase.

(I finished reading it in its sad state anyway, and I am anxiously awaiting book two.)

November 27, 2007 12:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a card carrying Bibliophile it saddens me to hear that people take their books near sources of open water, have food and drink stains on the pages, and underline and highlight passages. To me, that is sheer madness.

I've only ever had one book fall apart on me and it was one that deserved it. It was one of Terry Goodkind's paperbacks that a friend recommended I buy. I don't think we'll miss that one.

February 14, 2008 1:17 PM  

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