Woolf on Books that Die a Natural Death

A BBC radio debate pitted Virginia Woolf against her publisher husband on the topic “Are Too Many Books Written and Published?”. She said:

Books ought to be so cheap that we can throw them away if we do not like them, or give them away if we do. Moreover, it is absurd to print every book as if it were fated to last a hundred years. The life of the average book is perhaps three months. Why not face this fact? Why not print the first edition on some perishable material which would crumble to a little heap of perfectly clean dust in about six months time? If a second edition were needed, this could be printed on good paper and well bound. Thus by far the greater number of books would die a natural death in three months or so. No space would be wasted and no dirt would be collected.

This debate took place 82 years ago. In 1927. I’ll place a wager that if she’s still alive today she’ll be one hell of a DRM supporter.

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