Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Under the Slimy Sea Bathroom Reader

Hat tip to wagga for this find:

It is an open secret that people read in the bathroom, and books are a common Christmas gift. But a holiday sales pitch for books to read in the bathroom seemed to me to be particularly indelicate.
"Bathroom Readers' Institute and Portable Press offer just the ticket for those who plan on using the bathroom this holiday season," the news release began, trumpeting the arrival of the 20th anniversary edition of Uncle John's Bathroom Reader.
There is a kids' version, too, titled "
Uncle John's Under the Slimy Sea Bathroom Reader for Kids Only," which struck me as an unfortunate title, bringing to mind some kind of sewage spill.
But you can't argue with success, and the Uncle John series of bathroom readers has sold more than 7 million copies in the past two decades, according to Uncle John himself, Gordon Javna.
"Well, I am an uncle," said Javna from the Oregon offices of Bathroom Readers' Institute. "The 'John' part is a bathroom pun. We go for as many of those as we possibly can." The institute isn't exactly an institute, either. It is Javna and "a crack research staff" of six who gather goofy tidbits year-round to fill the annual Bathroom Reader, which is 600 pages this year.
Javna said he and his brother came up with the idea in 1987.
"These kinds of books are fun to read anywhere. But we realized this was a niche that nobody had recognized. We didn't know how successful it would be," Javna said. "It is one of the longest-running active book series out there."
I guess there are no taboo subjects for publication these days, but since surveys indicate that most people close the bathroom door even when they are home alone, it seems that the majority of us are still reluctant to reveal everything that goes on behind that door.
A discreet selection of magazines and catalogs serves as an unspoken acknowledgment of the facts in this matter. But putting a book in the powder room with an illustration of toilet paper on the cover seems over the top.
Most of these bathroom books -- and there have been dozens of imitators since the Uncle John series debuted -- are collections of trivia, lists, jokes, urban myths and little-known facts.
In other words, random, tidbit knowledge.
Although we spend something like 35 minutes a day in the bathroom, that is apparently not enough time to finish a New Yorker essay or a Vanity Fair article.
"We started with dumb crooks, odd quotations and weird news," Javna said. "Those kinds of things are now franchises for other people. We've had to innovate."
Despite its impressive length, I am not sure Uncle John's Triumphant 20th Anniversary Bathroom Reader would earn me the esteem of even my most loyal friends.
Other bathroom facts, many of which are recorded in these bathroom companions: Men are more likely than women to read in the bathroom, as are people with advanced degrees; newspapers are the most popular reading materials, although a segment of the population goes through its bills in the bathroom.
It is interesting to see the impact of technology on all this: Apparently the most common BlackBerry repair results from a fall in the toilet.
And the "smart homes" built by the tech-savvy now include flat-screen TVs that double as shaving mirrors and wireless access in the bathroom, which means you can probably download books to your Kindle there.
We have certainly come a long way from The Old Farmer's Almanac, which used to serve two purposes in the old outhouse.
But I am not sure I consider it progress when we become a target audience while sitting in that last private place.

11 comments:

Ogg the Caveman said...

Something about the shape of that green thing's mouth is oddly familiar. As for bathroom books, I have to admit I've never quite understood the point. If you're spending enough time on the john to get significant reading done, shouldn't you think about getting some more fiber in your diet?

Akubi said...

Well apparently if you spend enough time to read on entire New Yorker article, you definitely need more fiber in your diet.

More bathroom news!
Bride in toilet paper dress get married in public restroom!

Ogg the Caveman said...

I didn't realize Edgar was getting married. Congratulations, Edgar. I can't really tell from the grainy photo in the article but I'm sure she's lovely.

Edgar said...

I don't know if you are fishing or not ogg, but I am already happily married. ;-)

Edgar said...

BTW, I thought that Reader's Digest was the preferred publication for serious bathroom campers.

Akubi said...

@Edgar,
Is Reader's Digest what you read on the toilet?
BTW, did you see the fish tank toilet on Baabaabaab?

In other toilet news, 100 arrested for not having toilets.
It seems to be quite a busy toilet news day!

Edgar said...

Cholera, that's some nasty $hit, pun intended.

@akubi asks: Is Reader's Digest what you read on the toilet?

Nope, I work PennyPress Easy Crosswords. I have a huge stack I bought for $4.95 + shipping and handling. Never get a subscription, the back issues are the same & much cheaper. That's the scam.

BTW, did you see the fish tank toilet on Baabaabaab?

Yep!

Akubi said...

Hmmm, crosswords on the toilet. That's interesting. I think I would find that a little too distracting.

Edgar's Toilet search term poetry:

wormorator
luxurious t
toilet hat
dulcolax toilet paper
vika smoking
toilet trouble
return of the jedi dancer
what does butthurt mean
luxury toilets
http://edgartoilet.blogspot.com/
man's bathroom
toilets pink
paper chan
a man's bathroom
koi toilet, aquarium
traumatized worms
japanese toilet
hanukkah toilet paper
edgar's toilet
toilet bike
toilet home traumatized compost worms
vintage toilet roll holders
return of the jedi chewbacca bounty amount

Akubi said...

My SweetPee Answering Nature's Call On-The-Go

Akubi said...

Carol Medenhall found herself ticketed after her goats were seen mating and relieving themselves in the yard of her Dibble home, just south of Oklahoma City.

Edgar said...

Dibble, it figures. I can see why they'd be offended, that stuff goes on all the time out there. They probably figure, hey, if I can't have sex with a goat in public, nobody can. ::rolls eyes::