We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Samizdata quote of the day – Hard copy edition

[T]his also proves that relying on a Kindle or other tech is a folly. I have quite a library in my flat, and sometimes friends of mine poke fun at it and ask why I don’t put all this on a digital device. The naivete is clear.

Buy the actual books; learn to look after them, keep copies of really valuable ones. And give them to those whom you respect and love in your will. Beware anyone whose bookshelf is smaller than their plasma TV.

Johnathan Pearce

32 comments to Samizdata quote of the day – Hard copy edition

  • llamas

    I have a very old Kindle – 3 or 4 generations old – that was either 3G or wi-fi. 3G is gone, and I never connected it to our current wi-fi. It has a mass of my most-favourite books on it – Sherlock Holmes, Nevil Shute, Kipling, Shakespeare, a long list of military and history books, all kinds of things, at least 250 books or more. I take it to places where there’s no connection, and being as how it’s very old, it uses very little power and will run for days on a charge. Who knew that my Luddite re-use of aged hardware woukd actually be a form of the very samizdat after which this blog was named?



  • Mark

    My collection of books long predates my kindle of course.

    Yes there definitely is something about the tactile sensation of a good book, but on a business trip say, the sheer convenience of a reasonable sized library in your pocket. My kindle has made many a hotel stay a damn sight more bearable than it would have been without.

  • Paul Marks


    The left controls most institutions now, public and private (the big, “trans national”, Corporations) and they see “1084” as an instruction manual rather than a warning – they wish to control the past, not “just” the present. So all books, films, television programmes, and so on, will be “updated for modern audiences” – unless you have a physical copy of an old history book, or novel, or television programme (remember mainstream television programmes from only a few years ago are held by the government “anti terrorism” group “Prevent” to be a sign of being a “right wing extremist” and “potential terrorist”) you will only get “improved” (i.e. censored and mutilated) versions.

    In areas where there are restrictions on what government can do (essentially only the United States – the “freedom of speech” provisions in the constitutions of other countries are basically meaningless as they contain “subject to law” and other “take back” clauses that allow censorship) the work of censorship and control will be done (is being done) via the Corporations.

    “The Estate of the Author agreed to the changes” does not mean the widow and orphans – it means some vast Woke (Frankfurt School) Corporation such as Netflix or Amazon which now owns “the estate”.

    The biggest mistake I ever made was spending most of my life defending Corporations – I insisted on defending a theoretical model (Milton Friedman’s model of the Corporation as an apolitical money making engine for the shareholders) and ignoring how the Corporations behaved in real life (in the real world) – but now their behaviour is too despicable to be ignored. There is no Collectivist far left campaign that the “capitalist corporations” do not support – fanatically support. Again I am not talking about every little company – I am talking about the handful of vast Corporations that actually matter.

    “But Milton Friedman said….” – I know what he said, but at some point one has to stop ignoring what is actually going on in practice, rather than what should be going on in theory.

    Therefore one can not support the Corporate ownership of copyrights – they do not “protect beloved books and films from pirate editions” – the “pirate editions” are not the threat to these “beloved books and films” and so on, it is the official editions (produced by the corporations who now own the copyright) that are the threat to essentially all cultural “products” (for want of a better word).

    And it is no accident that the even the worse bastardisations, such as Amazon’s “Rings of Power”, turn up in the television advertisements of other corporations (supposedly competing corporations) and being portrayed in a positive light – the corporations (which are supposed to be competing) work as a “Woke” pack pushing the same evil, and I use the word deliberately, “values”.

    Copyright is supposed to protect the creator (the author or whatever) and their window and orphans – it is not supposed to allow (for example) the Disney Corporation to butcher works of literature and to threaten with legal action anyone who produces books or films or television programmes that are faithful to the “source material”.

    If anything it is supposed to be the other way round – those who stay faithful to the “source material” are supposed to be able to take legal action against the abuse of it, but now copyrights are owned by Corporate bureaucracies with a deep hatred of Western civilisation (and that language is not too strong – check where these Corporate executives are “educated” and what they are taught) the whole argument goes into reverse.

    Protection is needed against (not for) the Corporate copyright owners. They do not love these books, films, television programmes, buildings (yes buildings – they hate attractive traditional buildings), paintings, statues and-so-on, they hate (yes hate) them. And they wish to destroy them.

    “But Go Woke and Go Broke” – not whilst endless money is being produced, from nothing, by the public-private partnership that is the banking system and then pushed to the Woke Corporations.

    In the world that such entities BlackRock, State Street and Vanguard (between them these three entities control 20 Trillion, yes Trillion, worth of shares – so much for the Corporations working for “Aunt Agatha” with her share certificates behind the clock on the mantlepiece) are planning, “customers” will not be relevant – people will have the products they are given (there will be no real choice – people will be “nudged” – see Cass Sunstein and co) – and international governments are very much on-board with this agenda.

    If it sounds like the plans of Saint-Simon two hundred years ago – sadly (tragically) that is because there is a strong kinship.

  • rhoda klapp

    I just bought an early Neville Shute. The foreword explains; It took me a long time to write this, I was busy designing an airship at my day job. (paraphrased by me)

  • Paul Marks

    “But Paul – the vast international corporations would be fine if it was not for the monetary and financial system pushing endless money-from-nothing at them at lower interest rates than other people get”.

    Perhaps (perhaps) that is so – but I do not see fiat money and Credit Bubble banking being abandoned, not this side of a general collapse.

    And the above was not (not) the argument of Milton Friedman – on the contrary he defended expanding the money supply to “keep the price level stable” and prevent “deflation” (i.e. prices falling over time as we find better ways to produce goods and services) – even praising Benjamin Strong, the head of the New York Federal Reserve who created the Credit Bubble “boom” of the late 1920s.

    To Milton Friedman, just as for John Keynes (later Lord Keynes) the problem was not the Credit Bubble “boom” – the problem was the bust in 1929.

    They could not see that it is the money supply increase itself (i.e. the money from nothing – handed out to Corporate pets) that is the problem – every time the bubble economy looks like it is going to (rightly) collapse, Milton Friedman, not just John Maynard Keynes, comes in supporting yet another bailout (open or hidden) for the banks and magic circle of vast international corporations.

    The little corporation down the road will not get special treatment – but you can be sure that BlackRock or Amazon will.

    The whole system can be summed up in two words – institutionalised corruption.

    Wall Street is institutionally corrupt – as corrupt as the elections in Arizona (and some other States) that the Wall Street Journal supports.

    Oh yes – the economic corruption (the fiat money and the Credit Bubble banking) goes hand-in-hand with supporting rigged elections – and that support for election rigging comes from “RINOs” (Republicans In Name Only) just as much as Democrats.

    The RINOs (and fake conservatives on other lands) see themselves as junior partners in the international “governance” plans for the future.

    If you do not believe me – ask them if they think the two “Gold Clause” cases of 1935 were wrongly decided.

    The United States Supreme Court de facto decided, five votes to four, that the privately owned gold of the people could be stolen (although the word “stolen” was not used) and that the “gold clauses” in all public and private contracts were void.

    That is the end of Contract Law – and it is the end of honest finance (although finance had really been corrupted long before). And a Supreme Court that can do that, can (with a few added “Justices”) can get rid of such things as the 1st Amendment.

    If they can steal your gold (and they did steal it) and tear up all contracts that specified that payment was to be in gold (and they did tear them up), they can also send you to prison (or worse) for saying something they do not like – regardless of the 1st Amendment.

    After all if a “threat to the financial system” is the criteria on which Supreme Court judgements are made, then saying “the financial system is based on legalised FRAUD” is a “threat to the financial system” – which depends on “Confidence” – i.e. on most people not knowing the-Emperor-is-not-wearing-any-clothes.

    So why not expand the censorship to cover any dissent against the new “values” of “modern society”.

    Indeed that is precisely the position of the people that the Democrats (and the RINOs) wish to appoint as judges.

    We must not allow “Hate Speech” – i.e. any speech that dissents from the new “values”.

  • Snorri Godhi

    There are lots of e.books available for free on the internet, which you can download and store on an external drive, where no hacker can find or delete them (unless you keep the external drive connected while surfing).

    One advantage of such books are that it is easier to search in them. Just this morning, i did this in all the Hobbes books which i have downloaded, and it took just minutes.

  • Nicholas (Unlicensed Joker) Gray

    Another advantage- you can persuade an author to sign your copy of his work. I doubt that anything similar could be done on Kindle.

  • druid144

    I was suspicious of Kindle from an incident at the beginning when a book was sold and then Amazon found they did not have the rights. It was deleted from customers’ libraries ( and refunded.) I then decided I would not use Kindle unless I could store them offline and unalterable.
    At one time there were programs that would transcribe kindle books to epub format which are stored offline. I know big A. plugged that leak, I don’t know if a new generation of hackers have cracked the new code.

  • Sam Duncan

    I’d agree with the final sentence, but (as I almost commented on the other thread) digital devices are fine; it’s connected digital devices which present a problem, especially those which demand a connection to operate.

    I’ve had a Kobo Reader for years, but I’ve never had a Kobo account. The only time it’s ever been online was when I tested the rather primitive web browser. Everything that’s on it got there over USB or SD card. And nobody’s going to alter or delete anything on it except me.

    Hell, that’s why I bought it over a Kindle. Amazon wants to lock everything down to keep control of their DRM. Kobo (at least at the time I bought mine; they’ve since been bought by Rakuten, and things may have changed) almost encouraged you to hack their devices.

  • Sigivald

    I happily do all my reading on a Kindle *and* make decrypted backups of every book I buy on it (though many are DRM-free from the publisher, too); Kindle DRM is a bad joke there only to make publishers see the “there’s DRM” checkbox is checked, it’s *trivially* breakable with free, easy to use software.

    Amazon could go bankrupt or turn Pure Evil tomorrow and I’d still have a readable, shareable, back-uppable copy of every book I’ve bought on it.

    And “backups” are one thing physical books never really have in that way.

    People worried about bad actors or censorship ought to PREFER digital to hardcopy, since one can trivially make copies of digital works at roughly zero marginal cost, and give them to *everyone*.

    A printed book? One person at a time, will eventually wear out or die from a spill or something.

  • Fred Z

    I gave up my Kindle years ago in favour of a very small flip laptop with the kindle app. It has a larger, better screen and functions as a usable computer when I travel.

    Everything on it is backed up on a Toshiba USB drive that is physically unplugged when not in active use, and when it is in use the computer wi-fi is off.

    Should I also unplug the wi-fi router? Is the computer telling me the truth when it claims to be disconnected from the internet? I often wonder if I am paranoid enough.

  • There is one important distinction between hard-copy books and electronic books: moving. Last time we moved, the mover, despite his estimate, decided he needed more people to do the job. We have bookcases everywhere. (Some are used for storage, but not even counting them, there are four floor-to-ceiling racks of shelves, two head-high, and four four-shelf wall-to-wall, plus one chest-high, and a four-shelf lawyer’s case.) Then there’s the storage room with boxes of books.

    Much of this, we cannot digitize. We’re writers. We have shelves and boxes full of stock. We also have a shelf or two of personally autographed-to-us books by other writers. You can only dispose of so many before sentiment starts growling at you.

    Some books must be on paper. Big books, books with illustrations or tables. Some of the others are out of print. But Mary is busy converting her Agatha Christie library from paper to Kindle. I mostly download fanfic onto my computer, then read it on my smartphone. (There are over three gigabytes of fanfic. You can get the average paperback novel into a megabyte. We’d need a front-loader to move that if it were all in readable print on paper.)

    I’m going as digital as I can. And I back up my hard drive. If we have, say, a fire (the building across the street from us did) grabbing the backup drive on the way out will save two terabytes of it – photos, music, the family album, and more. Let’s see that happen with paper!

  • Dave

    The left controls most institutions now, public and private (the big, “trans national”, Corporations) and they see “1084” as an instruction manual rather than a warning – they wish to control the past, not “just” the present.

    1084? The Norman Dystopia?

  • bobby b

    “1084? The Norman Dystopia?”

    We have always been at war with Hardrada.

  • llamas

    Rhoda Klapp – that’ll be ‘So Disdained’/’The Mysterious Aviator’, published in1928, but you have a reprint from 1951 or later. It’s a decent try for a second novel, if a touch formulaic. You’ll like it.

    No, not a Nevil Shute geek at all. What makes you think that?

    And by his author’s note, hangs a tale, which circles right back to the topic of this post.

    The airship he was working on was R101, one of a pair of airships which the UK Labour-oriented government decided to use as a test of state vs private enterprise. Two airships would be designed and built to the same specification, one (R100) by the state’s resources (the Royal Aircraft Establishment) and one (R101) by a private consortium (headed by Metropolitan-Vickers), and by this means, we would learn which form of enterprise was Better.

    The ‘state’ airship (R101) turned out to be a poorly-designed and -built death-trap, which failed its specification by a wide margin, and which crashed and burned on its first distance flight, killing all but two of its crew, including Lord Thompson of Cardington, the originator of the airship competition and the head cheerleader for the ‘state’ effort.

    By the time this happened, the ‘private’ airship (R101) had already been in service for the best part of a year, under-budget and exceeding its specification, and had flown some 56,000 miles, including a round trip to Canada, without serious issues.

    Naturally, the instant the ‘state’ airship crashed and burned, the ‘private’ airship was immediately grounded, and quickly thereafter broken up for scrap, using steam-rollers to destroy the structure. This exceptional piece of design and construction (the design team being led by Barnes Wallis, of Wellington bomber and Dambusters fame) was summarily memory-holed to the point where relics and records of it are extremely-rare. There are a few fragments of the structure in museums and private hands, and the Yorkshire Aviation Museum at Elvington has some pieces of the outer cover and the cabin furniture, but that’s it. If the ‘state’ airship was a ghastly failure, the successful ‘private’ airship could not be allowed to exist any longer, and any records of its success were so-far-as-possible destroyed. Brings the received narrative into question, and we can’t have that, can we?

    See also ‘TSR2’.



  • Snorri Godhi

    Fred Z:

    Should I also unplug the wi-fi router? Is the computer telling me the truth when it claims to be disconnected from the internet? I often wonder if I am paranoid enough.

    I am paranoiac enough to switch off the power of the wi-fi AND turn off the wireless connection on my laptop. But not always: if i just want a quick look at my external drive, then i do only the latter.

    Incidentally, is your nom de plume a reference to Fred Zinneman?

  • Wickedpinto

    12 years ago, maybe 14, I can’t recall, but a while ago Anne Althouse used her kindle for research for various legal posts, and one day she found out that Amazon whiped all of her notes that she included on her books, and she tried to re-read to see if the content itself was changed, but she couldn’t recall, but she knew that all of her notes were cleared.

    Never let anyone else have access to YOUR data.

    I Helped create the modern internet on a small scale, and I leanred more than 20 years ago, I wanted nothing to do with it. I define myself as a “neo-luddite” I have no faith in technology, even though I used to be an early adopter

  • rhoda klapp

    llamas, it is indeed So Disdained and in a very recent edition, 2009 by Vintage Classics. I read all of his novels as a youth. He was so good at character as well as storytelling. I wonder what the modern bansturbaters would make of The Chequerboard or Round the Bend.

  • Paul Marks

    if no “hate speech” is to be allowed in the future, then how can books, films and old television shows escape?

    The, institutionally corrupt, FBI already sends 20 armed agents to abuse totally innocent people in front of their young children – how long before they (and local “reformed” police) start to organise house to house searches for books that are “racist”, or suggest that the financial system is based on institutionalised fraud, or anything that is a threat to the election rigging, “financial economy” that the Wall Street Journal loves so much?

    “It will never happen Paul” – a couple of appointments to the Supreme Court and anything (anything at all) can happen. And anyone, after the Covid lockdowns and the “Net Zero” stuff, who does not understand that both international governments and international corporations (which are joined at the him – Mussolini or Klaus Schwab style Corporate State) are deeply hostile to liberty, does not understand anything.

  • Fred Z

    @Snorri Godhi – Not Fred Zinneman, it’s just that I have a multi-syllable Germanic surname full of umlauts.

    Usually ‘Z’ or sometimes ‘Zed’ is easier.

    And safer. Were I to use my unusual surname I would not feel free to say or write the dreadful conservative things I think because lefty nut-jobs could find my home address with a single google search.

  • 1084? The Norman Dystopia?

    Quite possibly the greatest comment on Samizdata ever 😉

  • Jacob

    I had an aunt that died a couple of years ago, at the age of 98. She had a few hundred paper books. They went straight to the garbage. No one even bothered to look at them. That is the fate of all paper books. Kindle is a blessing. I mean electronic books. As is electronic music. (I don’t own a kindle device, I read on a cell-phone).
    You can keep all the backup drives you want. I do. Never used the stored data, though it is soothing to know it’s there somewhere in some drawer. It will be thrown out, together with your paper books when you die.
    By the way: I own a paper copy of “Life on the Mississippi” and it still contains the word “–gger” which was removed from a later edition that I own too.

  • Jacob

    Hey, Samizdata went woke. My comment above was blocked when I used the full word N.

  • Jacob

    Sorry, seems the first comment was only detained. Then I posted the second one. Now both appear. Editors: feel free to delete one of them and the last remark too.

  • Paul Marks

    1984 pussy cats, 1984.

    But, come to think of it, the conditions of 1084 – all dissent crushed, about half the population reduced to serfdom, almost land confiscated by William the Bastard, and wide areas of especially the north of England reduced to waste land filled with the rotting corpses of the former inhabitants, were rather bad.

  • Paul Marks

    Jacob – if you think that throwing hundreds of books on the garbage, without even looking at them, is a good idea, then we see things rather differently.

    It appears that the attitudes of the first Emperor of China are back – although that is unfair even to that tyrant, as he at least had his officials check all books before destroying them.

  • Martin

    I find the Kindle the best for things like newspaper and political magazine subscriptions (I get the Telegraph and Spectator this way). The subs tend to be cheap, the delivery efficient and not reliant on retail or postage, and especially useful if you’re out of the country. My kindle has seen better days with the battery length too, so it’s not so useful for much more than short reads like papers and mags anyway! The subscriptions are the only things I regularly get off amazon now. In general I’m trying to reduce buying things from Bezos nowadays.

    Although I have got lots of ebooks, I do seem to be increasingly lurching towards preferring ‘paper’ books, and prefer second hand bookshops where feasible. Admittedly online libraries like the internet archive are definitely useful (in most cases these are scans of the paper versions of a book, useful from library collections). Above all I miss living near my old university library (Leeds). Yes, campus politics are completely insane now (and they were hardly benign in the early 2000s when I attended) but having access to huge old libraries like that I do miss.

    Jacob – if you think that throwing hundreds of books on the garbage, without even looking at them, is a good idea, then we see things rather differently.

    Agreed. Several years ago I helped a good friend get into a rehab facility for alcohol problems. The place had been an old people’s care home before it was turned into a rehab centre and they’d inherited a big library of books, some real interesting stuff, especially literature and history. Not too long after the friend got out from the rehab, the facility was bought out by some rich prick looking to turn the place into houses. After finding out about this (perhaps too late) I inquired about if they’d consider letting me take the books from them. Apparently, Mr Philistine property developer had already just binned the lot. I’m still a bit POed about that to this day.

  • bobby b

    Some decades ago, I lived in an old, poorly insulated house in Minnesota.

    I put all of my bookshelves along the outside walls of the study. It became the warmest room in the house.

    Try THAT with your Kindles!

  • llamas

    The book ‘Secondhand’ by Adam Minter has some fascinating insights into the future of ‘real’ books.

    Available on Kindle.



  • Jacob

    “if you think that throwing hundreds of books on the garbage, without even looking at them, is a good idea”
    I didn’t say I thought it was a good idea.
    I said – that is what happened to them. A fact. And – not every book is a treasure or a deposit of significant wisdom.

  • Paul Marks

    Jacob – if no one looked as the books, how can they tell anything about them?

    I greatly regret the books that were removed from school and university libraries – someone checked them, because they always removed, and destroyed, the best (the most interesting) books, and left conformist dross.

    The dissenting books I found as a child at school and then as a student at various universities (tucked away in corners and certainly not any “reading lists” from the academics) are no longer in the libraries.

    I suspect these books are not available on “Kindle”.

  • Bruce

    “Treeware” books?

    The batteries do not go flat, for a start.

    The interpretation “firm / meat-ware” has not changed much in the past and is not likely to change much in the future.

    The “contents” of individual copies cannot be remotely “edited” / bowdlerized at at whim.

    Minor damage can be repaired with simple techniques and materials.

    Paper books are a LOT less bulky than inscribed clay tablets (Think: “War and Peace” published in Cuneiform on clay tablets or Hieroglyphics painted or carved on slices of limestone), and, as a bonus, proper books usually do not shatter when dropped.