Of Books, Bugs, and a Bit of B.S.

Okay, so now there’s all this Hoo Ha about bedbugs in library books, reported by the New York Times and duly taken up by every other news source in the land. Are people now going to be afraid of books, as they’re afraid of so many other things these days?


Consider this. Bedbugs live on blood, not paper. Bedbugs could hop onto any damn thing you have in bed with you, be it book, teddy bear, drawing pad, or even (horrors!) your kindle in its kindle-case. Myself, I can’t imagine a self-respecting bedbug leaving its snug home and assured food supply for some bloodless alternative. Perhaps some bedbugs are adventurers, but not too many, I think, since I see several paragraphs down in the NYT article that the New York Public Library system has had fewer than 10 confirmed bedbug cases since 2010 in its 90 branches. Does this sound like a crisis to you?
So why the hubbub about books? May I suggest this is actually part of a stealth campaign by the makers of “PackTite” – a product which claims to get rid of the critters lurking inside your books by baking them to death. Can’t be good for the books, either.  PackTite, by the way, is mentioned quite early in the article, and there’s even an embedded link to the PackTite page later on, so you can order the thing.
This latest news comes Just when I thought the bedbug hysteria was over. Sigh. I was born a country girl, so I’ve always been aware that there are bugs and beasties and creepies and crawlies everywhere you turn and you just deal with them the best you can. Now we seem to want a sleek, metallic world where any bug is a threat, and an infestation of bedbugs is seen to be the equivalent of an alien invasion. This is not to say that bedbugs are not nasty pests, but they’ve been sleeping with mankind for a long, long time and they’re not going away any time soon. They are not the most urgent problem facing the planet, and anyway, blaming books is not the solution to anything.
So it goes. And now, back to the improbable business of bookselling in the 21st century …PS: Dear “PackTite” — Just kidding, ha ha.
Now sleep tight
and don’t let the bedbugs bite!

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