Epsteins Law

Captured from YouArentGonnaReadIt.

One problem with YouArentGonnaReadIt is that it violates Epstein's Law, which states that, if you don't buy a book you want to read when you first see it, you won't ever see it again.

Besides, owning more books than you can ever read (or, for the less ambitious, more than you will ever read) is a very healthy sign of hope. I don't care what the doctors say.

Epstein must not have had many friends with similar tastes.

I've discovered that the Internet largely invalidates Epstein's law, between new book sellers like Amazon and FatBrain, used book sellers like http://www.abebooks.com/, and auction houses like Ebay, I can find virtually any title ever carried, including 1963 Touche Turtle picture books, and 1979 Apple II hardware manuals. It's nice to let someone else pay the carrying costs on these items until I need them. -- JohnBrewer

Yes, but Epstein's Law was formulated as an excuse to give to a non-bibliophilic spouse when you come back from the bookstore. As such, it need only be strong enough to sustain an argument until the new books are shelved.

Not everything is so easily available. I don't see a copy of Carl Linderholm's Mathematics Made Difficult on bookfinder. And price can increase as well. I bought Paul R. Halmos' I Want to be a Mathematician: An Automathography for $75 a year or two ago at a rare-book store in NewYorkCity. The single copy now listed on bookfinder is $165. -- ApoorvaMuralidhara

Yes, I know all the knowledge is out there in bookshops. But if I want a particular piece of knowledge, I need to be able to just reach out and grab it. My purpose for it is almost always transient. Waiting weeks for its arrival from Amazon, or taking my chances on its being unmangled online, is never so effective as having the handy wood pulp. Besides, books look better than wallpaper, and are more effective sound insulation. -- PeterMerel, growing up to be wizened.

...the Internet largely invalidates Epstein's law...

Not if Epstein had in mind exactly why I buy many books on first sight. It's not that I am worried that I will not be able to find it when I want it; it's that I will completely forget that it exists, so I'll never look for it. If I put it on one of my shelves, I can be almost certain to stumble across it again.

"Weeks for its arrival from Amazon"? Peter, do you live in Siberia? Most everybody I know gets books from Amazon in a matter of days, not weeks.
See also OloughlinsLaw


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