"I would be willing to bet that if you asked librarians, 'Would you be willing to pay 50 cents more for a book that would hold up for five years?,' 99% would answer, 'Yes, we'd do that,' " says Hall of Shame operator Clark. "We'd do it in a heartbeat."
Meanwhile, librarians will continue to protest bad books by sharing their stories on the Hall of Shame site. And possibly continue to be ignored.
"I'm looking at a book from the '50s, for heaven's sake, and it's still fairly structurally sound," says Lynne Allen, library director for the Vose Library, in Union, Me.
She compares that to a new book from AOL Time Warner's LIFE imprint, titled One Nation: America Remembers September 11, 2001.
It retails for $29.95. And it fell apart after circulating three times. "When it came back, it had split apart," Allen says. "And I thought, 'This is ridiculous.' "
Allen heard about Clark's Web site and logged on. She looked up the publisher's customer service address, another service Clark provides. Allen fired off an e-mail to AOL Time Warner.
Three weeks later, and with no response to her e-mail message, a replacement book arrives. That should be the end of the story, but it's not. The replacement book has the same quality problems.
"Book binding is probably the only human process that has systematically deteriorated with every added mechanization, in the process of getting the book from the writer to the reader," says Dr. Roberts, the Book Doctor. "Every time we've added a new layer to the process, [the] product has been