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So Many Books

3.65  ·  Rating Details  ·  546 Ratings  ·  71 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 1,678)
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Dec 15, 2007 Katie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 08, 2015 Kristīne rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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??
Feb 08, 2016 julieta rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mexico, non-fiction
Con este libro me pasó algo que me ha sucedido pocas veces. No entiendo el tono, no sé si es gracioso, o ardido, si está hablando en serio o en broma. Pero me costó mucho trabajo mantener la atención. No me interesa leer por ser "culta" así que un libro que dice eso, por más que sea Gabriel Zaid, a quien le tengo respeto (le tengo mucho cariño a una compilación de poesía mexicana que hizo, pero no he leído nada más), aunque tampoco puedo decir que lo conozco tanto.
El caso es que me costó trabaj
Ted Smith
Jul 12, 2008 Ted Smith rated it really liked it  ·  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
Mar 11, 2013 Jane rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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)
May 23, 2008 Jennifer (JC-S) rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned, librarybooks
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
Feb 05, 2015 Doug rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Apr 14, 2013 Evey rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
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
Aug 25, 2012 Israel Carlock rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 :)...
Jul 29, 2010 ben rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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 it was ok  ·  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.
Apr 28, 2014 April rated it liked it
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
Jul 24, 2012 Arthur Tashiro rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

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
Mar 25, 2010 Kamal rated it really liked it
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
Apr 21, 2009 Gabriel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 it was amazing  ·  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
Miguel Jiménez
Oct 05, 2014 Miguel Jiménez rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Leer este libro es como juntar la vida de un lector con la de otro lector. En el encuentro, se comparten las sensaciones que da la lectura o el libro como tal. Pero no sólo se queda en una plática, sino hay un descubrimiento de ideas -cuando menos, ajenas- sobre lo que significa esto de los libros. Y eso es por el pensamiento personal de Gabriel Zaid, que en su escritura parece como si lo dicho fuera cualquier cosa, cuando de entro de esas ideas hay reflexiones únicas y, me atrevo a decir, brill ...more
A few thoughtful take-aways, but mostly not that interesting of a read. My main reaction was, of course there's a lot of books in the world and I don't want to read all of them anyways. One of my favorite parts of finding books and reading is the stumbling and fumbling search for new reads, and I felt like Zaid glossed over the problem of finding new favorites in favor of lamenting the overwhelming production and publication of books.
Keith Walters
Oct 11, 2015 Keith Walters rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Didn't really give the answer of how to reconcile yourself to the fact that you can never read all the books you would like to. Also seemed to treat all books as the same as if there was no qualitative difference in reading 50 Shades or Ulysses. I did like the idea of giving a book as a gift being both a gift but also an obligation. Made me consider how I view the books on my shelf - reading plan or captured species.
Aug 17, 2015 Carlos rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Hay varias reflexiones valiosas en este libro y varios temas que me gustaría entender/debatir pero hay una sola reflexión que para mi vale el libro entero y es uno de los textos que más me ha sorprendido:

Después de leer cien, mil, diez mil libros en la vida, ¿qué se ha leído? Nada. Decir: Yo sólo 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 quizás eso, exactamente, socrát
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
Aug 20, 2015 Sheri rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I had bought this because my favorite bookseller (Doug Dutton) endorsed it, but I didn't like it at all. Some interesting observations about book pricing, a few nice quotes, but I otherwise found it uninteresting, often dated (inevitably, because of when it was written), and not well-written (or translated, or both).
Dec 02, 2012 Eben rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 16, 2008 Rachel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: on-reading
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
Jan 03, 2008 Mark rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 26, 2013 Emkoshka rated it liked it
Shelves: books, 2013
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
Feb 11, 2016 Anastasiaadamov rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own, favorites
Rather cute book with lots of optimistic views on books and their future. It was written by someone who loves books for others who love books as well.
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Wolverine Farm Pu...: * So Many Books! 2 12 Sep 12, 2015 09:21AM  
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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...

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“The truly cultured are capable of owning thousands of unread books without losing their composure or their desire for more.” 39 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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