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Friday, February 5, 2016

Library Finds Books A Pain In The Asho

You know that old saying, "It's Greek to me"? Well… Japan's National Diet Library does… and by the time you finish this blog, you will have a new definition to mull over.

Aside from the Greeks—Gods love ya—how many people can read the Greek alphabet or can speak the language, aside from saying "Cheeburger, cheeburger, cheep. No Coke, Pepsi!"

Apparently that number is even less within the walls of Japan.

After purchasing 78 volumes of a book via an on-line Japanese store, Japan's National Diet Library wants its money back.

Why? Because not only are the books written in Greek, they are written with nonsensical Greek… gibberish… like Australian English. Kidding, I love the Aussies. Well… just the women.

Aside from the women, just what the hell am I talking about?

Well, the book series known as "Asho"—look at the image above—has line after line of Greek alphabetic words and symbols… and other language alphabets… that combined, do not form any sort of coherent sentence. Even if you were drunk on Ouzo.

Yeah… it's all Greek to me.

The 26-year-old Japanese man who wrote and published the Asho books said it is a "work of art".

Between March and October 2015, the National Diet Library accepted 78 volumes of the Asho series… paying ¥64,800 per book. For 78 books.

The Greeks were very good at math, weren't they? Especially that Pythagoras fellow.

Let's see… that's US$550 per book.

Or a total of ¥5,054,400 or US$42,900.

I have no idea who's the biggest idiot here… the guy who prints up these books and calls them art, or the guy that buys them sight unseen. Or even seen. And then wants his money back.

While I admit that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and that goes for art as well, I would think that almost everyone on the planet would agree that nonsensical books in Greek and other alphabets—78 different volumes of it (and counting) are not what one would consider 'good' art.

Maybe just a three-volume set... but 78 volumes? This isn't art, so much as knowing a sucker when one see's one.

So... good on ya, mate, if you can get some idiot to drop US$42,900 down to line your pockets and then provide you with a reach-around. Win-win.

The Accounting Department at the National Diet Library must have wanted to see the expensive tomes it had purchased, and must have had their friend Nick (everyone should know at least one Greek named Nick) check the quality of it.

Realizing it was deceived, the Library (or is it The Diet?) wants its money back. Whatever. The Library wants to return the books and recoup its embarrassment of riches... or is that its rich embarrassment?

The Japanese author/publisher/con artist (con artiste?) said he doesn't quite know what all the hubbub is about, but notes that "the publishing company has already disbanded."

So… why the fug did the National Diet Library purchase these 78 volumes of Asho?

The person who purchased the books—unnamed for now—figured that the books must be widely distributed if it was for sale on-line.

That was why they (the library officials… so far reports are always saying 'library officials' - plural, rather than me, who says 'the person') purchased the books?!?!

Not because it was famous. Not because it was a literary gem. Not because it was done by an up and coming author. Not because it was written in Japanese by a Japanese person for the Japanese market.

No... it was purchased because the Library thought it was widely distributed. Because it was being sold on-line.

Right… every author who has ever self-published an E-book can attest that selling on-line has made them rich. Riiiiiight.

Who's the real Asho?

Forget biting, interesting content. Library officials eventually concluded (after much deliberating (They stopped purchasing the books in September… and it's February now… that's four months…) that the Asho series of books could bot be called a book because:

  1. 1) There were only a small number of copies made;
  2. The contents were fundamentally indecipherable.

Does anyone else want to sell Japan a bridge or perhaps some swampland in Florida?

Wow. I mean, just wow. Here's what Japan needs to do. It needs to hire a librarian for the National Diet Library who knows the true value of a book…

This story was sent my way by a librarian at a major private library in the U.S. He found it amusing. I did, too… but the more I looked at it, I'm amazed how some people make more money than me when they are obviously a) not that smart; b) not as good at their job as I am at mine. And I do this for free.

For this Greek snafu, I would imagine the Library will be the butt of all jokes in Japan for a while.

If you want to know what I meant about that 'cheeseburger' thing, just watch this old Saturday Night Live skit—one of the best the show ever did ever…

Watch John Belushi - The Olympia Restaurant in Comedy | View More Free Videos Online at

This skit had people all across North America looking for a hamburger joint with some old school Greek boys and ordering a cheeseburger (even though they would rather have had a hamburger), just to hear the stereotype perpetuate itself.

In west Toronto, there was a John Anderson's Burgers on Dundas Street West that I would go to just to hear their lyrical tonalities. Was I being mean? No. They probably had lots of people go in because of that same reason. I was making them rich.

Okay… for all you wannabe Greeks… enough of that backdoor politics. In other words… The End.

Somewhere, Japan's National Diet Library is NOT having a Greek salad for lunch,
Andrew Joseph

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