Appledore Books Newsletter
January 2009

People buy a book because they like the subject. Or, according to R.R. Bowker, the leading book information company, they want to read the next title in a series or they like the characters or the price or because of a recommendation. But the top reason by far is adding a book to a personal collection.

For example, in 2007, readers between ages 29 and 40 bought 284.6 million books. Of those surveyed, 24.5% bought a book to expand their collections. After reading the book, 74.0% of them shelved it in their own private libraries. Otherwise, they either loaned it (8.6%), gave it away (4.8%), sold it (4.5%), donated it (1.5%), threw it away (0.5%) or don’t know (5.1%).


In the current Number 6 issue of EntelechyInternational, Julia Older links Vian’s 1950 prescient essay on computer “poets” with her own memoirist essay on modern-day programmed poetry.

“As Vian says,” writes Older, translator-editor of Vian’s book of Surrealist short stories BLUES FOR A BLACK CAT, “we can amass information, but we must embrace The Word in a profound sense on all levels no matter what we write. This means spiritual, this means scientific and intellectual, this means playful and letting loose. Otherwise, we will not have a voice. We will be robopoets.”

EntelechyInternational; A Journal of Contemporary Ideas is a publication of New England College in Henniker NH. Older’s fused translation-memoir is titled “TransAtlantic Robopoets; Underground with Boris Vian, B.F. Skinner, and Roadrunner.”

Older progresses from Vian’s cautionary tale of computer veneration to her experiences among B.F. Skinner’s rat mazes at the University of Michigan. She culminates her essay with the new gigantic trillion-processes-per-second “Roadrunner” computer at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico.

One of the drawbacks of human reliance on gee-whiz computers like “Roadrunner,” Older says, is: “Take the machine off the power grid and it’s a useless hunk of junk.”

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