...if you (like myself and my fiancee) are one of the few people out there that still appreciate dead-tree books...
Nitpicking, maybe... but you actually think that there are only a FEW people who still appreciate paper books? We must live in very different places, because even the nerdiest of my social circle (and I work in InfoSec) won't touch e-books with a ten foot pole.
Which sums up the impression I get reading your average xkcd strip, if I'm not about to hurl at Munroe's insipid melancholy. It turns out you don't need to be that clever; nevertheless I am in xkcd's presumed target audience, and despite getting many of the gags still don't find them that funny. Moreover, I cannot see what the hell my peers think is so great about it. Seriously, do they need a bunch of mathsier-than-thou stick drawings to reaffirm their abilities? Roughly speaking, xkcd is to geeks what The Mighty Boosh is to trendy undergrads. As far as I can see, they're both guilty of flattering their respective audiences to the point where the latter forgets that anything comic should, at least once in a while, make one laugh.
This is exactly how I feel about xkcd. It doesn't seem to exist as an honest form of expression for its own sake, but rather as a series of attempts to get its readers to go "yeah! I get that reference! go me!" When it tries to be sentimental or romantic, it ends up being syrupy-sweet glurge. When it tries to make a statement, it comes off preachy. Most of the time, it's just warmed-over references to year old memes and random, bizarre situations that are weird for the sake of being weird rather than actually creative.
The worst part of it all is that I could just dismiss it as yet another webcomic I dislike if it wasn't IMPOSSIBLE to avoid. It's linked to and +5 funnied in nearly every Slashdot thread. You can't bring up something computer or science related on a forum without some "clever" person digging out a tangentially related xkcd strip. Oh, and because I work in computer security, I got that idiotic "Bobby Tables" strip emailed to me about a thousand times.
I'm just glad to find out that there are a handful of like-minded nerds who don't deify xkcd. It's cute sometimes, I guess, but we're not taking Bill Watterson level material here.
To spot the expert, pick the one who predicts the job will take the longest and cost the most.