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Amazon vs. Hachette, an Epic Battle Faught with Letters and Addresses

Best Selling author Douglas Preston, along with 907 other authors, signed a letter that ran as a double full-page ad in yesterday’s print edition of the New York Times, asking Amazon to stop blocking or delaying the sale of books on their site as a tactic to lower the e-book prices that Amazon is charged by the publisher Hachette.* The three month dispute between Hachette and Amazon previously prompted a response by Amazon’s self-published authors and readers, but it took an odd turn Saturday night when Amazon posted this letter on a site called ReadersUnited.com, after sending it as an email to all of its Kindle Direct Publishing authors. In that letter they include Hachette’s CEO’s email, and have asked their KDP authors to write to Hachette’s CEO telling him what they think about cheaper ebooks. [more inside]
posted by Toekneesan on Aug 11, 2014 - 146 comments

Dig out your sparkly pens again

When was the last time you got something in the mail other than the water bill or a pizza menu? Why does mail always have to be bad news? Groups online are reviving the dying tradition of penpals and sending the most wonderful, creative letters and notes across the globe, making the moment the mail drops onto the doormat exciting instead of dread-inducing again. Bonus link - the League of Extraordinary Penpals, who "think that writing a letter snuggled under a blanket with a cup of tea and a cat by your side is a better way to spend your Friday night than hanging out at the bar."
posted by winterhill on Mar 17, 2014 - 36 comments

"Don't be like I was you can be better"

Convicts write letters to their past selves.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering on Mar 3, 2014 - 8 comments

@ Risk

"I had a rare Twitter username, @N. Yep, just one letter. I’ve been offered as much as $50,000 for it. People have tried to steal it. Password reset instructions are a regular sight in my email inbox. As of today, I no longer control @N. I was extorted into giving it up."
—Naoki Heroshima explains how his accounts were hacked in order to force him to give up his single-letter Twitter handle. [more inside]
posted by me3dia on Jan 30, 2014 - 86 comments

"And for this, Australia, we are sorry."

CSIRO apologises for lack of research on dragons, makes dragon.
posted by Mezentian on Jan 9, 2014 - 46 comments

Margaret Mead's passion

"Always I love you and realize what a desert life might have been without you." —Margaret Mead to anthropologist and folklorist Ruth Benedict, who remained her companion and arguably her soul-mate despite both women having husbands.
posted by Athanassiel on Dec 9, 2013 - 9 comments

The Debate over H: the 'istory of aitch

Why H is the most contentious letter in the alphabet is a quick overview of the letter H. Though the visual form of the letter has been pretty stable in Medieval writing, it's the pronunciation of the letter that has caused issues, from Catullus' poem mocking Arrius's addition of H's to words, to the Irish clash of Protestants and Catholics including how each group pronounced H. Such regional and generational shifts in pronunciation were of interest to the British Library, as documented in their Evolving English exhibit, which includes an online "mapped" catalog of sound clips (previously).
posted by filthy light thief on Nov 7, 2013 - 33 comments

'The theme of "Charlotte's Web" is that a pig shall be saved'

"I haven't told why I wrote the book, but I haven't told you why I sneeze, either. A book is a sneeze." A lovely little letter from E. B. White.
posted by Rory Marinich on Aug 5, 2013 - 18 comments

"You are very welcome to this sad, tattered and abused old world."

"We have not learned, even, to live with our fellow man. Instead we have perfected more means to annihilate him -- to wipe him (and ourselves) from the face of the Earth." A 1974 letter from Lieutenant Colonel Clyde S. Shield, lead test pilot for the Manhattan project, to his newborn grandson.
posted by DarlingBri on Jul 10, 2013 - 9 comments

Waiting for Sluggo

Why did Samuel Beckett write to Ernie Bushmiller? Did he feel a sense of kinship with the cartoonist whose strip he read every day? Did he see in Bushmiller a man who quietly pursued his repetitive vocation day after day, no matter what? Did the Bushmiller characters strike a chord in the creator of Vladimir and Estragon? Did Beckett first formulate some of the innovations of his later plays while pondering situations for Nancy and Sluggo? We can never know if the inadvertent surrealistic antics of Bushmiller’s tykes influenced the translator of Eluard and Breton, or what first prompted the author of The Unnamable and Krapp’s Last Tape to begin sending strip ideas to a cartoonist in Connecticut. Was it Beckett’s frustration with his literary career, or the seemingly endless difficulties in mounting Godot that led him to seek another outlet, in yet another literary form, for his ideas and emotions? Whatever the reasons, we are lucky that much of the Beckett-Bushmiller correspondence has been preserved. [more inside]
posted by chavenet on Jun 30, 2013 - 19 comments

Bewilderment, speculation and plain old fashioned abuse

"If Shirley Jackson’s intent was to symbolize into complete mystification, and at the same time be gratuitously disagreeable, she certainly succeeded" - The New Yorker takes a look at the over 300 letters in reaction to The Lottery
posted by Artw on Jun 27, 2013 - 44 comments

Italo Calvino's Letters

The New Yorker is publishing excerpts from Italo Calvino: Letters, 1941-1985, translated by Martin McLaughlin, on its book blog. (via) [more inside]
posted by Rustic Etruscan on May 22, 2013 - 15 comments

A life in letters

Bess of Hardwick's Letters brings together the correspondence of one of the most powerful women of the Elizabethan era, the builder of one of England's greatest houses and the founder of one of its greatest political dynasties. As well as telling the story of Bess's life, it offers an introduction to early modern letters and a guide to reading early modern handwriting.
posted by verstegan on May 13, 2013 - 9 comments

How I Met My Dead Parents

Going through my parents' stuff didn't make me suddenly miss them, but I became more intrigued by them every day. I wanted to know more and more about them, to solve their mysteries. At the same time, I felt a corresponding, if conflicting, urge to speak, or write, about what many people seemed to think was unspeakable: my ever-present lack of grief. So I decided to combine these seemingly divergent impulses into an Tumblr blog called My Dead Parents, which I kept anonymous both out of respect for my family and because, after years of writing fiction, I wasn't sure if I could handle revealing so much about myself in writing.
Anya Yurchyshyn writes about rediscovering her parents through their letters, after their deaths.
posted by the man of twists and turns on Apr 20, 2013 - 12 comments

The Darwin-Hooker Letters

The Cambridge University Library houses the world's largest collection of Charles Darwin's letters: more than 9,000 of the 15,000 letters he is known to have written and received in his lifetime. They've been posting them online since 2007 (previously on MeFi), in the Darwin Correspondence Project, where we can now read and search the full texts of more than 7,500 letters, and find information on 7,500 more -- all for free. This weekend, they added nearly all of the Darwin-Hooker letters: Over 1400 pieces of correspondence between Darwin and his closest friend, botanist Joseph Hooker. [more inside]
posted by zarq on Mar 31, 2013 - 9 comments

Letters From A Private

Letters From A Private: "...[19 year-old Pvt. D. Bruce Hirshorn] was in the Army in 1944 and 1945. He wrote home almost every single day.... Today, Uncle Bruce is the same upbeat, funny guy. He’s 87 and he loves syrup and ships!" [more inside]
posted by knile on Mar 18, 2013 - 8 comments

Cosmic Sans

A collaboration between 26 designers to create 26 space and sci-fi themed letters. A series of 26 sci-fi and space themed typographic art prints.
posted by Sailormom on Dec 26, 2012 - 29 comments

When the moon hits you eye like a big pizza pie

My Dearest Barack: A collection of letters that student Dylan Hansen-Fliedner wrote back to the Obama campaign, in response to donation requests.
posted by growabrain on Dec 1, 2012 - 16 comments

M is for Myriapod

Mysteries of Vernacular is a series of delightful papercraft animations about etymology, by filmmaker Jessica Oreck. Four of a projected 26 videos, one for each letter of the alphabet, have been completed so far: Assassin, Hearse, Pants, and Clue. (via)
posted by Horace Rumpole on Sep 14, 2012 - 5 comments

Chore list of Champions

From a January 26, 1947, contract between Kurt Vonnegut and his pregnant wife, Jane, to whom he had been married for sixteen months: "I, Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., that is, do hereby swear that I will be faithful to the commitments hereunder listed..."
posted by daniel_charms on Aug 30, 2012 - 68 comments

Taylor Mali poem, animated

A typographical animation of Taylor Mali's poem, "Totally like whatever, you know?"
posted by Brandon Blatcher on Aug 1, 2012 - 18 comments

How I Scored A Million Points In SpellTower

My father-in-law Jerry is great at word puzzles. Over the holidays, I showed him SpellTower on my iPad. By the time I took my iPad back at the end of the trip, he had already broken the SpellTower “Puzzle Mode” record on the Game Center leader board by almost 100,000 points. So I asked Jerry if he would share his strategy
posted by growabrain on Jun 10, 2012 - 17 comments

The Most Beautiful Work of All

This letter from Patti Smith to Robert Mapplethorpe written 22 years after they met and when he was dying from AIDS , was never delivered. The link to her reading it last fall is heartwrenching and filled with the love of old friends.
posted by Isadorady on Jun 9, 2012 - 9 comments

Dear Mr. Wright

In 1956 a 12-year-old Jim Berger exchanged letters with Frank Lloyd Wright. The result was a Wright designed doghouse.
posted by IvoShandor on Feb 13, 2012 - 24 comments

I'm gonna sit write down and write twenty-four letters...

A Month of Letters is a challenge with two parts: mail something (anything!) every day the post runs in February and respond to every letter you get.
posted by naturalog on Feb 1, 2012 - 23 comments

On the contrary, it seems to me that [God], on the strength of His daily acts, He must be set down a most cruel, stupid and villainous fellow.

From lettersofnote.com : In July of 1931, author and philosopher Will Durant wrote to a number of notable figures and asked, essentially, "What is the meaning of life?" His letter concluded: Spare me a moment to tell me what meaning life has for you, what keeps you going, what help—if any—religion gives you, what are the sources of your inspiration and your energy, what is the goal or motive-force of your toil, where you find your consolations and your happiness, where, in the last resort, your treasure lies. Write briefly if you must; write at length and at leisure if you possibly can; for every word from you will be precious to me. Durant received many replies, a selection of which were compiled in the book, "On the Meaning of Life." By far the greatest response, in my opinion, came from the great H. L. Mencken. It can, and should, be read below. (Description above taken straight from the linked post, as it summed it up pretty well)
posted by datter on Feb 1, 2012 - 30 comments

The Little Anarchist Collective That Could

George Whitman, founder of the Parisian landmark bookstore Shakespeare And Company, has died at the age of 98
posted by The Whelk on Dec 14, 2011 - 49 comments

Shapecatcher: draw to explore Unicode characters

Shapecatcher let's you draw a picture to find the matching Unicode characters. via
posted by Foci for Analysis on Nov 11, 2011 - 33 comments

Typographic Inspiration

Beautiful Type is a patchwork of photos and illustrations having a relationship with typography. AisleOne is focused on graphic design, typography, grid systems, minimalism and modernism. iABC is a collection of beautiful letters. Inspiration Bit has a nice archive of articles about web typography. Nicetype is about fonts, logos, posters and software. Twenty-Six Types celebrates the beautiful letters. Typenuts is type-themed iPhone and desktop wallpapers. Typoretum is about typography, letterpress and printing history. Enjoy.
posted by netbros on Nov 6, 2011 - 5 comments

This is why America can't not have a postal system.

Floating Worlds is a new book detailing the never-before-seen correspondence between illustrator Edward Gorey and author Peter F. Neumeyer, who collaborated on three children’s books between September 1968 and October 1969. During that period, they regularly sent each other letters and postcards, many of which Gorey embellished with illustrations. [more inside]
posted by flyingsquirrel on Sep 15, 2011 - 8 comments

Your views are out of step with modern society

"... if children could go to the polls then perhaps Fred Nile, the leader of the Christian Democratic Party in NSW [New South Wales, Australia], wouldn't have the power that he has today." An 11-year old Charlie Fine writes about an issue that affects children across the Australian state of New South Wales. [more inside]
posted by vidur on Aug 1, 2011 - 58 comments

Civil War Diaries and Letters

Love and Valor the movie is based on the book, Love and Valor – The Intimate Civil War Letters Between Captain Jacob and Emeline Ritner Both projects by Charles Larimer. Hear him discuss these letters on Talk of Iowa. Mentioned in this episode: University of Iowa Libraries Civil War Diaries and Letters. Crowdsourcing transcription of these letters.
posted by cjorgensen on Jul 1, 2011 - 1 comment

Letters of Note

In 1971 a children's librarian in Troy, Michigan wrote dozens of letters to various celebrities and political leaders and asked them to send back inspirational messages to the children. Ninety-seven of them wrote back.
posted by gman on Jun 7, 2011 - 33 comments

A real stopping gun

I have, by now, got rather fond of Mr. James Bond. I like most of the things about him, with the exception of his rather deplorable taste in firearms. In particular, I dislike a man who comes into contact with all sorts of formidable people using a .25 Beretta. This sort of gun is really a lady's gun, and not a really nice lady at that. If Mr. Bond has to use a light gun he would be better off with a .22 rim fire; the lead bullet would cause more shocking effect than the jacketed type of the .25. - The letter that changed James Bond's gun, and gave his armourer a name.
posted by Artw on Jun 2, 2011 - 102 comments

Livingstone's lost letters revealed

For 140 years rare manuscripts that record the private thoughts and opinions of David Livingstone, the Victorian explorer and missionary, were hidden from the public eye due to their fragile condition and frequently indecipherable text. Today a trans-Atlantic academic and scientific team, launches a major project with the publication of Livingstone's Letter from Bambarre – a spectrally-imaged 'lost' letter from Livingstone's final African expedition, written to his friend and future biographer Horace Waller.
posted by notsnot on Feb 4, 2011 - 4 comments

Mickey Mantle's Grilled Cheese

Mickey Mantle's outstanding event at Yankee Stadium. [NSFW text] Fact-checked by Snopes. And this from a man who did a lot of outstanding things in Yankee Stadium. Letters Of Note previously.
posted by chavenet on Feb 2, 2011 - 25 comments

Letters To Santa

Uh, the Postal Service began receiving Letters to Santa Claus more than 100 years ago. In 1912, Postmaster General Frank Hitchcock authorized local postmasters to allow postal employees and citizens to respond to the letters through programs such as Operation Santa, Letters To Santa & Globe Santa. Individuals or Groups fill out a form, and then basically make a kids' wish come true. Some letters get replies. Some Letters go to Macy's. Some busy elves even stay up all night to help. Like Tonight.
posted by Israel Tucker on Dec 14, 2010 - 16 comments

Mapping the Republic of Letters

Mapping the Republic of Letters is a cartographic tool designed by students and professors at Stanford that seeks to represent the Enlightenment era Republic of Letters, the network of correspondence between the finest thinkers of the day, such as Voltaire, Leibniz, Rousseau, Newton, Diderot, Linnaeus, Franklin and countless others. Patricia Cohen wrote an article about Mapping the Republic of Letters as well as other datamining digital humanities projects in The New York Times. The mapping tool is fun to play with but I recommend you read the blogpost where Cohen explains how to use Mapping the Republic of Letters.
posted by Kattullus on Nov 16, 2010 - 15 comments

Yours truly

"The modern hand-written love letter is dead," says Doyle. "That is the consensus. People communicate differently now – though not necessarily without meaning. They still are learning to get to know each other through the written word." Love written digitally may not have the romantic image of quill and ink (though ink-stained fingers may also have dampened some ardour in the old days), but the new medium doesn't necessarily harden the heart. Think only of the popularity of dating websites, which prove that communicating feelings of hope and tenderness in text continues to thrive in certain quarters. ~ The dying art of the billet doux
posted by The Lady is a designer on Nov 2, 2010 - 23 comments

Do you want to be a writer?

Do you want to be a writer? This is your tradition. In 1978, Michael Ventura co-founded the 'LA Weekly,' serving as film critic and feature writer until 1983, when (while continuing to write features) he began his biweekly column Letters at 3AM. The column appeared in that publication until 1993; since then, it has been published by the Austin Chronicle. [more inside]
posted by Devils Rancher on Oct 20, 2010 - 6 comments

These bastards let your brother die

Robert Heinlein really, really didn't like early Science Fiction fandom.
posted by Artw on May 28, 2010 - 129 comments

Johnny Depp Reads Hunter S. Thompson

Johnny Depp reads letters he received from Hunter S. Thompson while filming "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas."
posted by WhoseVoice on Apr 13, 2010 - 22 comments

Don't take the hot booty call lady to nanas

Clothing for Correspondence will write a letter for you. Just send them ... old clothes. Whether you're trying to woo a pretty circus girl or trying to help your ex avoid taking the hot booty call lady to nana's house for dinner, they have you covered. [via]
posted by cashman on Mar 28, 2010 - 7 comments

Awwwwww.

Valentines from E.B. White, Mark Twain, Katharine Hepburn, E. E. Cummings, Alexander Hamilton, and Zero Mostel. From libraries and archives around NYC, via the NYT (more info here).
posted by Miko on Feb 14, 2010 - 11 comments

Gosh, you've... really got some nice toys here.

Blade Runner will prove invincible My life and creative work are justified and completed by BLADE RUNNER. Thank you..and it is going to be one hell of a commercial success. It will prove invincible. (via Letters of Note) [more inside]
posted by KokuRyu on Jan 12, 2010 - 52 comments

"I am a former child,'' she said, ''and I haven't forgotten a thing.''

Ursula Nordstrom—the "Maxwell Perkins of the Tot Department"—was, from 1940 to 1973, head of the Department of Books for Boys and Girls at the New York publisher Harper & Row, and until 1979 had her own imprint there, Ursula Nordstrom Books. A legendary editor known to her authors as UN, she published the books of Laura Ingalls Wilder, Margaret Wise Brown, Shel Silverstein, Maurice Sendak (whom she is credited with discovering) and, to not a little controversy, E. B. White (previously). One of "the last generation of devoted letter writers," she wrote nearly 100,000 during her five decade career at Harper, of which 300 of the most amusing, acerbic, and illuminating are collected in Dear Genius by Leonard S. Marcus, the first hundred pages of which can be read at the Harper website. [more inside]
posted by ocherdraco on Jan 6, 2010 - 8 comments

Strongly worded letter to follow

Letterheady, adjective. 1. Overcome by a strong emotion due to a letterhead design. 2. A new blog from Shaun Usher, creator of Letters of Note. (previously)
posted by Horace Rumpole on Jan 5, 2010 - 10 comments

Gimme a ...

The Daily Drop Cap is an ongoing project by typographer and illustrator Jessica Hische. Each day (or at least each WORK day), a new hand-crafted decorative initial cap will be posted for your enjoyment and for the beautification of blog posts everywhere.
posted by HumanComplex on Oct 30, 2009 - 19 comments

Dear Catherine, Hello, how are you?

"In April 2009, we sent a personal, handwritten letter to each of the 467 households in the small Irish village of Cushendall." Now, Michael Crowe and Lenka Clayton (previously on MeFi) intend to send a letter to everyone on the planet.
posted by creeky on Oct 30, 2009 - 63 comments

The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History

"Promoting the Love and Study of American History." The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History has many resources on its website, including over 50 free lecture podcasts, a collection of war letters throughout history, a Lincoln bicentennial page, and a new John Brown exhibition. [more inside]
posted by Hargrimm on Oct 17, 2009 - 7 comments

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