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So Many Books

3.67 of 5 stars 3.67  ·  rating details  ·  472 ratings  ·  63 reviews
In So Many Books, Gabriel Zaid offers his thoughts and observations on the literary condition: a highly original analysis of the predicament that readers, authors, publishers, booksellers, librarians, and teachers find themselves in today—when there are simply more books than any of us can contemplate. In this brief collection of essays, Zaid combines the business savvy of ...more
Hardcover, 144 pages
Published October 7th 2004 by Sort Of Books (first published 1996)
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(showing 1-30 of 1,466)
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I got more from the first chapter (on why/how we read) than the rest of the book (a call to arms for publishers to curtail crappy writing). But basically I think the credo: 'What does it matter how cultivated and up to date we are, or how many thousands of books we’ve read? What matters is how we feel, how we see, what we do after reading; whether the street and the clouds and the existence of others mean anything to us; whether reading makes us, physically, more alive.' (p. 24) applies to any c ...more
Obligāts lasāmais visiem grāmatniekiem - izdevējiem, pārdevējiem, rakstniekiem, un tiem, kuri kādreiz ir gribējuši par tādiem kļūt.
Īsi, koncentrēti un ļoti gudri pārspriedumi par grāmatu "būtību" komercijas, kultūras un vēsturiskajā kontekstā.
Aizmirstiet romantizēto skatu uz grāmatu kā svēto objektu. Tā saucamo "rakstnieku" tagad ir tik daudz, un pasaule ir piesārņota ar literatūru, kurai pastāv iespēja palikt nelasītai. Un kādēļ lai mēs turpinātu rakstīt un izdot jaunas grāmatas??
Ted Smith
Jul 12, 2008 Ted Smith rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: publishers, information professionals, readers, writers
Zaid's book is a small gem. Translated from the original Spanish, this is a insightful and erudite discussion of the significance of reading as a pillar of culture, the current and future state of of publishing, and the continuing viability and importance of the printed book in a world of e-texts and online publishing. Zaid has a great many worthwhile things to say, and he says them well in a concise manner.

Among the many things he points out is that the biggest cost in reading is not the price
Two prizes for this book: the BB and the Booby. The BB, or Bulging Brain Award, goes to Gabriel Zaid for the most original and thought-provoking book of 2012. The Booby goes to his publisher, Paul Dry Books of Philadelphia, for letting a mis-bound book out of his warehouse. There I was, happily following the clever observations of my new spiritual-fiance-book guru, when suddenly, pages 81-112 failed to show. OK, I thought, maybe they were bound into the back by mistake? Nope, I got two copies of ...more
Jennifer (JC-S)
This is where I admit to having a serious addiction to books. Not to mention a deep and abiding curiosity about the mysteries of books; about the metrics of production and all of those conversations between writers and readers.

I really enjoyed this book. So much is contained within its 144 pages that I need to purchase my own copy.

After all, 'if every private library is a reading plan' then the chaos that is my plan is clearly, umm, a plan undergoing continuous improvement.
As much as I like books on reading and readers, this one is really lame and shallow. Between one and two stars. Half of the book's content is in the title - yes, there are many books in this world, so what? There are also many kinds of food and clothing, many tv stations, MANY is all around us in the consumerist society - but we manage somehow, don't we? Not to mention many men and women, but most of us find partner(s) ... It is all a question of choice - we have to know which book to pick. We s ...more
Jay Hinman
Excessively literate book obsessives are an exceptionally narcissistic tribe; how else to explain the incredible amount of available books that happen to be themselves dissertations about books, or that concern the pleasures of reading, or are instead navel-gazing studies into the mind of the reader whilst reading? I’m certainly not immune, and Gabriel Zaid’s short treatise on books isn’t the first such missive I’ve spent money on in order to justify or deepen my attachment to reading and/or con ...more
Part celebration of readership, part education on the book business. Greatly enjoyed the book and the glimpse into how some of my favorite sausage is made.
I read this for university and I really enjoyed it, which actually surprised me. I didn't expect to be compelled to read a book and enjoy doing so, but I did because it's really good.

So, if you're interested in reading about books itself (not exactly a history of books but present and future of them), I highly recommend you to read "Los demasiados libros".
Agustín Fest
Un libro breve y muy sabroso. Aunque algunas cosas ya están fuera del tiempo (y eso que fue escrito, apenas, hace casi 20 años), me gusta verlo como una lectura obligada para lectores, editores, bibliotecarios, entre otros. No sólo ofrece una visión interesante y muy completa del mundo editorial, también hace preguntas que hogaño son vigentes.
Israel Carlock
muy buen libro.. con él me pasó el golpe de lectura. Mi encuentro con este texto fue fortuito, nunca hubiera pensado en leer un libro sobre la problemática del libro pero fue una grata sorpresa, después del primer capítulo me siento menos frustrado de tener tantos libros sin leer :)...
Okay, there are a lot of books in the world. We will never read them all. Okay, oh well. Get over it.

Nice writing though, if not a bit repetitive.
Feb 25, 2011 Lobstergirl rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Ban-Ki Moon
Shelves: books-on-books
A book that bemoans overpublishing, which itself is an example of the problem.

I did like the cover, though.
A short book which tries to explain why books will never die out, spends so much time on the subjects of publishing, print runs and the like that most peoples reasons for wanting books as opposed to electronic formats are only covered as an after thought. the emotional reasons, nostalgia, the look, feel and smell of books seem to be an after thought. He did make one very good point though and that is how much more difficult it is to skip back and forth with electronic formats, which is essential ...more
Arthur Tashiro

Gabriel Zaid is a poet and critic who, according to the cover of SO MANY BOOKS, lives with a library of 10,000 volumes: the right fellow to discuss the moods and attitudes created by reading and writing. He talks about them in the context of the history of the written word and the state of publishing in 2003. His thoughts about Amazon, publishing on demand, and the advantages of printed texts over electronic ones are out of date, and some people now talk about the extinction of the book. But Zai
I must admit, I got caught up in the author's wit and charm in this clever book about our current bibliographic culture. Like so many "book scholars" Zaid see no sign of the book form dying any time soon, despite the prominence of the Internet, e-books and other digital products. This book affirms the place of books in a society of thinking people, but it only believes its own rhetoric halfheartedly. The strength of Zaid's book is that it doesn't fall into some of the traps proposed by books lik ...more
Zaid name-checks Ivan Ilich here, and that is just what this book reminded me of: Ivan Ilich. And that is a good thing.

At times an apologia, an argument, and a plan for the future, Zaid's short, rich essays do not so much exhaust a subject as collect certain facts and then allow the reader a way to understand what they might mean when considered together. This book is an invitation to reflection and contemplation, rather than a strictly pedagogical exhortation-- "Too many books!"

Zaid doesn't th
Sep 06, 2008 Angel rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who likes reading about books
I read this book back in 2005. Here is what I wrote in my journal about it at the time:

>>Finished reading Gabriel Zaid's So Many Books, a short 144 pg. set of essays on books and reading. The author looks at readers, the publishing industry, and why e-books do not mean the end of printed books among other topics. It was a light, quick, and pleasant read; the book was engaging and relaxing. Highly recommended for those who love books about books and reading. I think the best comment or obs
Chad Post
I don't know quite what to do with this book. I feel like I should like it a lot more than I do, since it's all about the issues I'm most interested in (at the moment). And parts of this are damn good. This would make a great book for my publishing internship class, since it describes a lot of issues of the publishing world in very simple, sketched out terms. Which also happens to be the reason it doesn't really grab me . . . The worst is the section on "The End of the Book," which argues why th ...more
Zaid basis his arguments about the book and its place in our culture on the idea that culture is a conversation, and I find this a very appealing idea. A professor of mine in Buffalo once defined a culture as the things a group of people can talk about, can share from our own experience because some aspect of it was shared by the other. Zaid makes the point that "books are obsolete from the moment they are written", and this is true in the same way that the spoken word in a conversation is obsol ...more
A really interesting book about the overwhelming amount of books available. I found many of his points about finding an audience and the impulse to write and be the voice everyone hears to be fascinating. I found myself stopping and just enjoying the logic of his arguments and the way he said that we couldn't possibly read everything we want. Of bookstores, he states, "To be angry because a book isn't where you want it to be is to be angry at the randomness of fate. Instead, we must take joy in ...more
A short little book that a lot of people here would likely enjoy as we look at "certain people" who are closing in on having read 1,000 books.

There is a limit to what people can read, and its surprisingly small. If you absolutely devote your life to reading, you might double that amount or so, but in the end we'll only sample a tiny amount of what's been written. On the other hand, books are so cheap to produce that everyone who wants to be a writer can be a writer.

Oh, well. If nothing else, i
I picked this up as a reader and writer, but it's pitched more at people in the business of books: publishers, booksellers, librarians. If you can get past the dry bits on the economics of book production and consumption, there's some good philosophical stuff in here although Zaid's pessismistic realism can be really offputting: for every book you read, there's a thousand you'll never read, etc. I thought of Goodreads often, particularly when reading the last page: 'Fortunately, there are still ...more
The human race publishes a book every thirty seconds,” writes Mexican author and self-confessed bibliophile Gabriel Zaid. How can anyone keep up with the hundreds of books they should read? Titles pile up over the years into precarious stacks that cry out to be read, and seem to frown each time a new book purchase is added to the pile. So Many Books is a philosophical and passionate love letter to the books that change us, and it serves as a reminder to the publishing industry that the blockbust ...more
Zaid is interesting and provocative; and if I disagree with him often, or find him rather pointlessly pontificatory at times, well, sometimes that goes with the territory. While he's rather better than his companion Manguel at presentation of figures - they share many interests, it appears - he comes across as decidedly less-likable; rather, Zaid feels pedagogically heavy, and ill-prepared to follow a certain thread through to completion; preferring instead the grandiose closing statement. That ...more
A bit dated and redundant in places, but there are some good ideas in here.
The discussion of diversity in publishing and catering to unique markets (yet still profitable) instead of aiming for blockbuster revenues really struck a cord. Small presses are extremely important in our publishing world, and the small gems they produce ought to be valued just as much as big money books (which all too often lack substance). Also the call for reading to be a part of public discourse and the rebuttal to the soothsaying about the death of the book proved to be interesting topics. ...more
There are a few deeply insightful chapters here about books and the nature of reading, and there are some interesting bits about the changing, and perhaps not-so-changing, realities of publishing. There is an excellent set of arguments against those who would pronounce the imminent demise of the printed book. And then there are the many repetitions of things already said in barely-changed terms. At places, the book is a 5. Overall, alas, it is not. At 144 pages, though, it's still well worth a r ...more
Jul 01, 2014 Kate rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: intractable readers
Recommended to Kate by: Micawber's
"Having unread books on display is like writing checks when you have no money in the bank."

"All commerce is conversation."
Didn't finish, interesting but read like one quote after another.
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Gabriel Zaid has been a member of the Mexican Academy of Language since 1986. He has distinguished himself for never appearing in public. A lot of his centre on poetry and and criticism of the literary establishment.
More about Gabriel Zaid...
Ómnibus de la poesía mexicana Cómo leer en bicicleta El secreto de la fama Los demasiados libros La Poesía en la Práctica

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“The truly cultured are capable of owning thousands of unread books without losing their composure or their desire for more.” 36 likes
“¿Y para qué leer? ¿Y para qué escribir? Después de leer cien, mil, diez mil libros en la vida, ¿qué se ha leído? Nada. Decir: yo sólo sé que no he leído nada, después de leer miles de libros, no es un acto de fingida modestia: es rigurosamente exacto, hasta la primera decimal de cero por ciento. Pero ¿no es quizá eso, exactamente, socráticamente, lo que los muchos libros deberían enseñarnos? Ser ignorantes a sabiendas, con plena aceptación. Dejar de ser ignorantes, para llegar a ser ignorantes inteligentes. [...] Quizá, por eso, la medida de la lectura no debe ser el número de libros leídos, sino el estado en que nos dejan.
¿Qué demonios importa si uno es culto, está al día o ha leído todos los libros? Lo que importa es cómo se anda, cómo se ve, cómo se actúa, después de leer. Si la calle y las nubes y la existencia de los otros tienen algo que decirnos. Si leer nos hace, físicamente, más reales.”
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