Reading: Mischa Honeck, Martin Klimke, Anna Kuhlmann (eds.) — Germany and the Black Diaspora: Points of Contact, 1250-1914

This book is obscenely overpriced.

I want to stop there … aaand I can’t. There is no way the publisher can justify such an OMG you paid how much? price. Hey Frances, how much did you pay? 62€. OMG you paid sixty-two euros?! WTF?! I know! Dude, really WTF? I know, shut up already. Are you gonna eat this month? I’m hoping for another stomach flu that kills my appetite. Enabling mercenary publishers: you’re bad and you should feel bad. I feel bad! I’m gonna pirate the shit outta it (metaphorically speaking, of course, Berghahn Books. Heh, Berghain Books. You did that too? Yeah! Imagine if Berghain published it, it’d cost a quarter, but they wouldn’t let you read it. Hawhaw oh-you-dog-dot-gif!). Better be fucking worth it. I know, right? Not optimistic though. Not fucking optimistic. It feels like you want to have a rant, would you like to have a rant, Frances?

There are audiences that need to read this. One is students, whose libraries can get three other sorely needed works for the price of this. If their libraries aren’t flush with cash jizzing over the stacks (eeew!), they’re shit out of luck, it’s so niche St George’s said “That’s kinda obscure Frances, even for you,” after giving me the side eye at spending so much. Another audience doesn’t even have the luxury of a university library, many of the people I see and read around blogs, Twitter, tumblr, where I this book got mentioned repeatedly, though never in the context of a quote. Very white whale. Especially the price. The price fucks its audience. The price has got me blog-swearing.

And the size. Blog-swearing over the size. Did I say how big it is? No, how big is it? Hashtag-keanu-reeves-neo-woah-dot-gif. Fuck. Me. That’s. Tiny. Slim and tiny. You paid sixty-two euros for slim and tiny?! The margins are kinda thin. The margins are kinda thin?! Half the thickness is the hardcover! Don’t exaggerate, anyway the typeface is small-ish… You wanna shovel while you’re digging? Dude srsly, you got ripped off. Shut up! Not hearing you! You and me are gonna have a talk about your buying books. Lala-fucking-la still not hearing you! It’s getting tinier and thinner while we talk! Fuckin’-laaaaaaaa! Better read it before it disappears!

But it’s well-written, right? Like baroque levels of beauty and profoundness, emotionally transcendent erudition? eehhh… eehhh? WTF is eeehh, Frances? It’s … Look, if it was all this and 20 euros I’d be going fuck yeah, or if it was Caroline Walker Bynum—You fangirl Bynum hard, don’t you?—and 60 I’d be all sour-pinched-face-dot-gif but still sorta justifying it which I’m not even trying to do with this. So it’s the price? Yup, totally the price. Its merit is hosed because of the price, because the price screws exactly the audience who needs and deserves to read it, deliberately removes it from the very conversations going on now which it makes its subject. Because of its price, its doing that shitty academic thing of talking about rather than with, excluding rather than participating.

Are you deciding not to enjoy it already? Yeahna, I’m definitely being harsh on it, if it’s gonna be 60 euros—62 dude—ok 62 euros, then I expect the contributors to be writing at a 62 euro level, which they’re not, but I’m not dismissing what they write. So what kinda level are they writing at? Well, the audience is undergrad uni maybe? Y’know, general “can handle academic-ish texts with footnotes,” multisyllabic words, long compound-complex sentences (You looked that up, didn’t you? You’re even asking?), longer paragraphs, particular choices of words and phrasings … How much have you read? The intro and a bit of the first essay, twice, skimmed the rest so far. You’re still sour though. Yup, sucking on limes. Last little rant, a short one?

I am frustrated. Small woohoo it’s complete on Google Books (for the moment), but there’s no valid reason for the price of this, when say, Harvard Uni Press’ 10 volume The Image of the Black in Western Art is around the same price a piece, 336 pages, many colour prints, large and heavy enough to flatten birds and mice, and even that is overpriced when the Berlin museums sell comparable slabs for 20-40€ (not on this subject though, or I wouldn’t even be having this conversation with you … err … me). Your taste does veer into the obscure though, boutique pressings for niche audiences, doesn’t it? This isn’t niche, especially now, especially with the pervasive anti-Islamicism in Europe and the US which is actually more about people who aren’t ‘white’ enough or ‘like us’ enough—whatever the fuck that means—who are shunted from the category of ‘human’ to ‘fair game’, and which denies the very history of the continent as one continually in a relationship with Africa and the Middle East. The publisher is selfish and stupid, and not a little extortionate, knowing schmucks like me can’t say no.

That’s the talk I wanted to have: Frances, you can’t buy books like this. Not even once. Not even when you believe it’s necessary. When you give in to those publishers, you perpetuate their bullshit. I know! I feel bad! Don’t feel bad, just don’t buy from them, ok? Ok … sad-keanu-is-sad-dot-gif.

(And I never saw the cover painting in the Deutsches Historisches Museum, Emil Doerstling’s Preußisches Liebesglück. I’ll have to go back, probably wandered past it in the entrance, I was definitely in a “photograph everything” mode.)