Imagine if there was a book that you could only read once. Imagine a book where you only had one chance to commit its pages to memory because after you read it the words would disappear. A book that when you turn the page you know that there’s no turning back. Well, it just so happens that there is one.
The book is an anthology containing the writing of lesser known Latin American authors and properly titled The Book That Can’t Wait. The Book That Can’t Wait is a unique book because roughly two months after you first crack the cover the words literally disappear. But instead of being constructed as a way to inspire fatigued memories the small Argentinian publisher said that they created The Book That Can’t Wait to be “a message in itself, that encourages us to read those authors, before their stories disappear for real, right before our eyes.”
As a book that was created to inspire reading The Book That Can’t Wait works in some ways but fails in others. In that you are given a deadline, I would like to think that those who buy The Book That Can’t Wait would finish its contents but of course there is no guarantee. In its innovation the book is exciting and eager to share its enthusiasm for reading with an audience. But in doing that isn’t it also slighting itself?
The video that the publisher put online to advertise The Book That Can’t Wait contains the phrase “If people don’t read their first books, they’ll never make it to a second.” Presumably, The Book That Can’t Wait is supposed to be the first book that inspires you onto a lifetime of reading. On one hand this is to say that reading The Book That Can’t Wait will remind you of how great it is to read. On the other hand whenever I have fond memories of reading a book it usually only makes me want to return to that specific book. In that it sets itself up as a tool to enjoy other works instead of the works within its own pages I find the gimmick somewhat degrading to the content.
My other issue with this “second book” thinking is that it inspires reading for consumption rather than reading for enjoyment or edification. And when media is being produced at the speed of light (on top of an already massive library provided by the past) is there really a point to trying to consume as much as possible? The Book That Can’t Wait calls for quantity but in an age where we already have an unquantifiable amount I think we should set aside that goal and instead focus on quality.
So what do you think? Would you give The Book That Can’t Wait a chance? What do you think about the “second book” line of thinking? Please leave some comments below so that we can continue our conversation on quantity vs. quality, books that disappear, and publishing gimmicks.
-Jet Fuel Blogger, Lucas Sifuentes