Book Worms

Hello and welcome to another week of outright lies and flagrant inaccuracies here at Factually Deficient! I would like to take this opportunity to remind my loyal readers to be free in sending me any and all questions that strike your fancy, on every topic existing and otherwise, through any method of communication known to plantkind.

This week, I will answer a question posed by my insectoid friend Scarab, who requested:

Please tell me about magical insect infestations in the library

While Factually Deficient is officially a self-employed endeavour, there are those whom our researchers answer to, in order to maintain certain professional associations, and these powers that be would like very much to be informed as to how, Scarab, you came to know that the library is cursed.

The library has always been cursed.

Insect infestations are natural; where there is the sweet smell of ink, or pulpy paper to sink one’s teeth into, or the intoxicating lure of book glue, insects will come. In saner times, this would not be so extreme a problem.

But the library is cursed. The insect infestations take on magical proportions.

The wood lice that gnaw through the shelves sing haunting melodies in long-dead languages. Patrons come in to borrow a book and leave, unable to stop thinking of a tune that they can’t help but feel reminds them of something they have lost. They will never remember what.

The ants seem to come out of nowhere, marching in across the library’s carpet. Librarians have learned to avoid stepping on them near the books, because these ants do not die; they merely burst into flames, only for five more ants to rise from the ashes of one. Rinse and repeat.

There is a species of moth that flutters in the rafters of the library’s ceiling. Its wings are painted with words that were not found in any book, but rather stolen out of people’s memories and thoughts. They are mostly benign, the librarians think. They cannot think of anything that these moths have taken.

There are spiders in the library too, of course, because spiders will turn up wherever there are insects, but they do not catch the magical insects in their webs. Instead, they capture imaginations, spinning threads of shimmering, changing colours that reach across the children’s section. They have taken over Storytime. No one has complained.

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Disclaimer: the above post contains untrue claims. Ask your local librarian for up-to-date information as to whether the library is cursed.

Copy Wrong

Hello and welcome to another rollicking week of unleavened lies and flat fabrications here at Factually Deficient! As always, everyone is welcome to send questions on any topic to Factually Deficient, through any means or medium available to you, at any hour of the day or night – no lie is too large! This week, I will answer a question posed to Factually Deficient by my very own, very real mother. She asked:

Why is there no copyright on book titles?

The lack of copyright on book titles is a state of affairs which has surprised and even appalled many. However, it stems from a whole slew of reasons – each one more reasonable than the last.

The first reason for why there is no copyright on book titles is a fairly simple one. In the recent past – exactly two hundred and sixty-two years ago – there was indeed copyright on book titles. However, this soon proved disastrous in all spheres academic and critical. Students and scholars alike were repeatedly and frequently forced to pay prohibitive licensing fees every time they wrote the title of a work they were discussing. All scholarship threatened to grind to a halt.

To prevent the death of their fields of study, the students and scholars in question grew creative; they began to devise ingenious roundabouts, euphemisms and descriptors to allude to these titles without actually using them. However, the number of words used in these roundabout descriptors soon began to rival, then equal, then exceed the number of remaining words in their scholarly essays – and still the uninitiated would have not the faintest idea which word was under discussion. The problem had gotten out of hand.

Still, this alone would not have been enough to abolish copyright on book titles – were it not for the last reason which coincided with it. Exactly two hundred and sixty-two years ago, publishers the world over decided to move on from the outmoded business model in which authors would be permitted to determine the titles of their own books.

Instead, a far more efficient method presented itself: there had been built a great computer, with the dedicated purpose of combining words, names, and phonemes at random to create book titles. This computer was set to spit out a new book title every seventeen minutes and seventeen seconds, and it was determined that each new book to be published would take its place in a universal queue and be given, with no argument or subjectivity, the next title to be spit out by the computer.

This ensured that each book’s title would be unique, arbitrary, and appropriate to its subject matter. However, it also meant that no creativity whatsoever had gone into the creation of the book’s title – and, in fact, no human mind had laboured over it. With no living person to deserve the credit for a book’s title, all necessity for copyright on book titles was eliminated.

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Disclaimer: the above post is a work of fiction. Not all book titles are determined by computer.

The Evil of Books

Hello and welcome to another week of unreliable claims and outright misinformation here at Factually Deficient! This week, I will be answering a question posed by a genuine librarian, the learned Amber Alice. Amber asked:

Are books evil?

Now, the simple answer to this question is yes, of course they are; all deception in general and fiction books in particular are wholly evil, as previously established here on Factually Deficient.

But the more interesting answer here is what is it that makes these fiction books so evil – because it is not just the deceptions contained within their pages that has so blackened their paper souls. No, these books have taken action on their own to ensure their place on the annals of the most infamous, the most notorious.

Books watch, you see. As you read their pages, staring into them, the gesture is reciprocal; so long as the book is open, it is examining you, eyeing your surroundings, keeping track of your comings and goings and the whereabouts of your possessions and companions.

They strike when you are out, when you are no longer watching them. Small things only: they’ll rearrange the items on your desk so that you cannot find your pen. They’ll disgorge your bookmark, silently laughing when you read the same twenty pages over again. They’ll tip over a glass of water right onto prized paperwork or electronics. And then they’ll return to – not quite where you left them; close enough that you will not suspect foul play, but far enough that you will begin to question your own memory and sanity.

Books are evil – not for what they contain, but for the mischief and the mayhem that they choose to perpetrate.

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The above post is a work of fiction. It cannot be trusted.