It’s interesting what some people consider to be “used-good,” and “used-acceptable.” This book was bought by me using the used-good equation. I bought it from amazon. But this book seems pretty bad to me. It is falling apart. How long will the binding glue last? It will likely be just fine, but the question arises, how do we define good and acceptable, not only for texts, but in other areas?

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It makes me wonder about the scale of good vs acceptable. Of course, this is always the thing I am thinking about because that which is good and that which is acceptable seems quite subjective. My aesthetic inquiry is based on an analysis of what we see as good and bad. I make paintings for this reason. Paintings are the stand-in for measurement.

But here we have an established scale of good vs acceptable. There is a unit of measure. The following comes from amazon’s, Condition Guidelines:

Used – Good: All pages and cover are intact (including the dust cover, if applicable). Spine may show signs of wear. Pages may include limited notes and highlighting. May include “From the library of” labels.

Used – Acceptable: All pages and the cover are intact, but the dust cover may be missing. Pages may include limited notes and highlighting, but the text cannot be obscured or unreadable.

This is incredibly fascinating to me as I am always looking for ways to assess my world. How do I make sound value judgements? How do I make sound value judgements wherein there seems to be subjectivity? And how do I make sound value judgements when the premises behind measurements are themselves questionable?

But back to the book. It is subjective on my part and on the seller’s part. Perhaps I expect too much.

My mother is a librarian. I almost literally grew up amongst the stacks. Imagine a six year old boy wandering the huge shelves of the Texas Tech Library, the shelves monoliths. A valley. Mountains rise on either side. Remember how large things seemed as a child, and how as you grew those things began to become proportional to your adult frame? Well, so those stacks literally loomed large for me. And always will. And the things on those stacks likewise loom large. Their conditions, their goodness, their utility. All bound up with glue and stitching. Bound up with what those texts imparted. What they represented. Whom they served.

But back to the book. Herein is a rubric. Good v Acceptable. Golden gloves, tarnished gloves. A bout about we all participate. This rubric is commercial, yet influences how we see things. It’s a yardstick. We create it, it creates us. Chicken and egg.

Amazon sells a lot of books, and their conditions are set by a certain standard. According to a Forbes staffer,  “…books account for 7% of the company’s $75 billion in total yearly revenue.” If I did my math right, then that is 525 million doll hairs. That suggests there is quite a lot at stake in this rubric of good vs acceptable.

And I wonder if this particular rubric could be applied to other areas. It is pretty general in its declarations. Used-good is intact with limited wear. Used-acceptable can be coverless and marked. What if I applied this rubric to other things? What if I applied to rubric to humans. A used-good human is intact with limited wear. A used-good human has all its arms and legs. So, sorry amputees, you are used-good. What about used-acceptable when applied to humans? You are considered used-acceptable when you are skinless and tattooed. Maybe a bit of an oxymoron but that’s ok.

So the whole point of an analysis like this isn’t to complain about a book seller, it’s to address the premises of value judgements. How do we account for that which is good? How can I tell? To put our rubrics through their paces extracts their inherent idiosyncrasies. To grind these things down begins to foreground their proclivities and axiological merits. To foreground the context of a thing extracts its values and tells us about what really is used-good and used-acceptable.

Some sources:

As a side note, I am going to come back to this and write more. This whole rubric analysis connects with my interest in measurement.

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