Read It And Weep

I work for a small art publisher. We also act as distributors for certain titles.

Many of you will know of my aspirations to be a full time novelist.

I know that many of you share those aspirations.

As a novelist, how sad would you be if you saw what I did today…..

I was unpacking a box of books we are distributing.

This was the packaging material –

It is someone’s novel.

Used to line a box.

A line from the novel reads –

Maggie had been awake most of the night.’

I’m not surprised, knowing what had happened to the novel she was appearing in.

I know that sometimes more copies of novels are printed than needed but it just seems such a sad place for a novel to end up. We all know the effort it takes to pen a novel. For some of its pages to be used as packaging material seems so heartless.

Let’s hope that none of our work ever meets such a terrible fate.

26 thoughts on “Read It And Weep

  1. Well, at least the novel had one more chance of being read by you, and one of its sentences ended here, where it will be seen by your hundreds of readers; what of the thousands of mass market genre novel that bookstores recycle after the rip off the page containing the UPC?


  2. ARGH! I’m all for recycling, but oooh! have a heart. So, um, did you read all of it? Was it any good. I love this part:
    “‘Maggie had been awake most of the night.’

    I’m not surprised, knowing what had happened to the novel she was appearing in.”

    Let’s just hope the final printing fared better.


  3. That’s like, if you’re a musician, and you see copies of your CDs in the 10 cent bin at the local record store. I’d rather give them away for free than suffer that kind of humiliation.


  4. JASON – I think it was actually a bit of a good seller by an Aussie writer although I hate to say I haven’t read it. But having read bits of pieces of it via the packaging I will admit to being intrigued. I’ll see if my local library has a copy.

    EMMANUEL – Oh, I know exactly what you mean. When I was at Uni I worked part-time at a local bookstore and the return of the unsold mass market novels used to break my heart. I think I felt it more acutely being a writer myself whereas my boss was just like :’It’s all about economics and budgets, nothing more.’ Thanks so much for stopping by!

    LINDA – oh, I hope so too. I would be in tears.

    KAREN – it actually sounded OK. I will try and get a copy of it. The author is a local girl and I have seen her at the shops from time to time. I hope if I see her again I don’t inadvertently blurt out what happened to her book. She’ll think I’m a nutter.

    MELEAH – it would be awful, wouldn’t it? But that will never happen to you. You’ll sell hundreds of thousands of copies of your book and people will be trading the first editions on EBay. I just know you’re going to be successful.

    BRITT – hits where it hurts, doesn’t it? Yow!


  5. CHRIS – oh, I know. It’s heartbreaking. Although, my hubby, who was in quite a well-known band in New Zealand, recently found a copy of his first album in a secondhand store. He was delighted because with all the moving around he’s done, he had lost it. It was only three dollars and is in perfect condition. So in that case, seeing it at a greatly reduced price was a godsend.


  6. That’s one of those moments all of us aspirational writers dread. I have visions of all of my future books being used as hamster shreddings.


  7. Some of the greatest written works were left unappreciated and often unpublished, until the author’s demise. Many of these people died penniless.Same thing for so many composers,musicians etc…how sad indeed.

    But I take heart in the fact that perserverence can and often does pay off. Writers are a hearty breed I believe (must be) if ever they hope to see the rewards of their work, paid in a monetary way. And of course, that is not the only form of reward or pay that counts, is it?

    Sad story though Selma. 😦


  8. Well, look … if the novel wasn’t any good, I suggest they wouldn’t have gone to the truoble of printing it in the first place. What happened here, I think, is some sheets didn’t print properly; the paper mis-fed, or they accidentally printed too many, or something and used what they couldn’t use for packing.

    I do think they might have shredded it first, though!

    Why don’t you pick a couple of didtinctive phrases, and shove them through Google, and see what comes up?

    At least they didn’t recycle it as toilet paper 🙂


  9. GERALDINE – life is all about perseverance, I firmly believe that. If at first you don’t succeed and all that….Oh yeah, we writers are tough. It comes with the territory, doesn’t it? It helps having people like you to pep us up. XX00

    PAISLEY – oh yeah. I’d prefer the thanks but no thanks letter any day!

    TRAVELRAT – I do think they should have shredded it first but thank God they didn’t recycle it as loo paper. That would really have been a low blow. I might try the Google thing and see what happens!


  10. Hi! Talking of toilet paper (as you and TravelRat were, I’m reminded of a movie I watched on SBS about a Chinese poet who went from village selling poems. He was very pleased that the poems were selling so well. Until he found out that
    people were using them as toilet paper.

    I’m also reminded of a scene from one of Bukowski’s novels. It was either Factotum or Post Office (I’m too lazy to check) Anyway, Buk is working in book packaging place. A big argument starts and Buk’s input is (paraphrased)”Hey, these books aren’t worth reading let alone arguing about”.
    I don’t know if this is the case or not with our anonymous author. I’ll be interested to hear how your google search turns out.



  11. INGRID – I hope so too. I know that from my point of view it would be upsetting, especially after all that work. Ouch.

    MELEAH – I mean it. XX

    DAVID – isn’t it awful to laugh, but I can’t help it. He was probably considered quite well off having all that paper to write on. But to be used as toilet paper – the ultimate bad review…

    I’ll let you know how the search turns out.


  12. >>But to be used as toilet paper – the ultimate bad review…<<

    As the composer Rossini once wrote to someone who gave one of his operas a bad review:


    I am in the smallest room in my house. Your review is before me. Soon, it will be behind me.’


  13. TRAVELRAT – that is hilarious. I wish I was so witty. It’s always been a dream of mine to come up with witty retorts off the top of my head – just like Oscar Wilde. I’ll need to work on that!


  14. Oh, that’s bad. I hope the author never find out. I’d rather the books are sold off cheaply or given to charity. This way, at least someone gets to read them.


  15. ANTHONY – oh, absolutely. I hope it doesn’t happen to any of us.

    AUTUMN – I wish they’d do that too. It seems such a shame to trash them, doesn’t it?

    EPIPHANY – awww, you are so sweet. I would just hate for it to happen to me or anyone I know. After all that work…..

    NECTARFIZZ – there is definitely a poem in there. Please let us all know when you have written it!


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