At least the Web doesn't waste paper

Gil Bates and Greta Garbage take tech novelty books too far.

By Janelle Brown
Published August 23, 1999 4:00PM (EDT)

When a book has a title like "The Microsoft Handbook of Business Ethics," you know there has to be a catch involved. Sure enough, this new book -- which landed in our in-boxes last week, and is supposedly written by one "Gil Bates" -- is just one big "gotcha."

The front cover promises insights into Microsoft's "respect for its competitors' innovations" and "fair trade practices." But open it up and you get well over 100 pages of ... nothing. Yup, this book of ethics consists of entirely blank pages.

As a one-note joke, it might have been worth a groan or two -- maybe even a few genuine yuks from those who love any kind of crack at Microsoft's expense. But really -- think about the trees that were chopped for those blank pages. Please, we behoove you, if you too find a copy on your desk, do the earth a favor: Tear the cover off and recycle the damn thing as a notebook. This novelty item is just not worth the paper it isn't printed on.

As for the other silly book that materialized on our desks last week -- well, at least this one weighs in at less than 65 pages. We have to compliment Greta Garbage (also a pseudonym, we suspect), author of "The 200 Most Disgusting Sites on the Internet," on her thriftiness with natural resources.

This diminutive book offers a list of what are possibly the most useless pages on the Net, categorized by subjects like "Odd Sex," "Boogers and Body Parts," "Barforama," "Insects as Food" and "Kitty Litter Cake." Most of these sites have indecipherably long URLs that are annoyingly difficult to type into a Web browser. But at least this book has content to giggle at -- even if its target audience probably still lives in a dorm room.

Of course, you might save yourself $5.95 -- and yes, a few trees -- by merely visiting the book's Web site and clicking on the disgusting links listed there instead.

Janelle Brown

Janelle Brown is a contributing writer for Salon.

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