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]
Today marks Tove Jansson’s 100th birthday. She was a free spirited artist, painter, political cartoonist, illustrator and author who defied the conventions of her time. Earlier this year, a postage stamp and a 2-Euro coin depicting Tove Jansson have been released in celebration of her birthday. She is probably best known for creating the Moomins, a beloved children's book series that was translated in over 40 languages. Unsurprisingly, some call her the queen of the Moomins. A current London exhibition [Tales from the Nordic Archipelago] allows a glimpse into her life and shows unseen photographs from her private island in the archipelago of Finland, where she spent over 30 summers. The English translation of a new biography is due later this year. [more inside]
On 28 June, Santa Cruz typographer Adam Lewis Greene submitted his Bible-as-literature project Bibliotheca to Kickstarter for one month of crowdfunding. Within 27 hours, the project had attained its $37,000 funding goal. People kept pledging support. By 26 July, following publication of a Verge article about the project, backing passed the $1 million mark. Two days later, when the fundraising period closed, the project had raised $1,440,345 from 14,884 backers. "No notes, no chapter numbers, no scripture verses. Just the text." What the Success of Bibliotheca Tells Us About the Future of Publishing. [more inside]
The DMMapp (Digitized Medieval Manuscripts App) is a website that links to more than 300 libraries in the world. Each one of these contains medieval manuscripts that can be browsed for free. The DMMapp is a product of Sexy Codicology, an independent project focused on medieval illuminated manuscripts and social media. It maintains a great blog about medieval manuscripts, especially those that are available online.
"It's annoying to hear we told you so—but, we told you so. The New Republic's initial review, published July 16, 1951, perfectly anticipated all the gripes and complaints readers would ironically come to have about Catcher's gripey and complaining protagonist." 63 Years Ago, We Knew That 'The Catcher in the Rye' Was Insufferable and Overrated. [more inside]
"... a series of curated, open access books about life — with life understood both philosophically and biologically — which provide a bridge between the humanities and the sciences." Although they offer "frozen PDFs," these books—on topics like biosemiotics, animal experience, and air—are curated collections of links to open access science articles, reviews, interviews, podcasts, sometimes with embedded sounds and videos. They have ISBN numbers and editors vetted by the Open Humanities Press, which is generally a gold mine of interesting books and journals. They feel perfectly at home on the open internet, evoking hope and nostalgia for a flourishing academic world wide web, without paywalls and login screens. [more inside]
Mental Floss links to free How-To guides from a hundred years ago that are still helpful if you need to mesmerize someone or name a baby
Black Girls Hunger for Heroes, Too: A Black Feminist Conversation on Fantasy Fiction for Teens.
What happens when two great black women fiction writers get together to talk about race in young adult literature? That's exactly what happens in the conversation below, where Zetta Elliott, a black feminist writer of poetry, plays, essays, novels, and stories for children, and award-winning Haitian-American speculative fiction writer Ibi Aanu Zoboi decided to discuss current young adult sci-fi.
The images vary widely, but they tend to be very strange and even disturbing—overt sexual acts, defecation, monsters, human-monster hybrids, animals acting like humans. There’s also examples of clergy behaving very badly, the sort of thing you would not expect to see in the margins of a sacred book.Kaitlin Manning of B & L Rootenberg Rare Books and Manuscripts talks to Collector's Weekly (previously) about the exquisitely detailed religious texts surrounded by all manner of illustrated commentary, known today as marginalia.
"So what is going on here? Should we be reassured that critics are sticking loyally by a work they admire regardless of sales, or bemused that something is being presented as a runaway commercial success when in fact it isn’t?" Tim Parks: Raise Your Hand If You’ve Read Knausgaard. [more inside]
You Are Now Entering the Demented Kingdom of William T. Vollmann: [The New Republic] Home to goddesses, dreams, and a dangerously uncorrupted literary mind.
The Decline of Harper Lee: [Vulture] The iconic 88-year-old author is involved in [another] messy tussle over a new biography. Does this mean she'll never tell her own story? [more inside]
Animal Land where there are no people was a children's book released in 1897, written by Sybil Corbet, who was four years old, and illustrated by her mother, Katharine Corbet. "Animal Land where there are no People is quite near, only you can't see it... They live by the North Pole and in the leafy places near. It is always light there, always day, they climb the poles and always play." [more inside]
The Oxford Symposium on Food and Cookery is an annual weekend conference discussing food, its history, and culture. Since 1981 the papers presented at the Symposium have been collected into a conference volume called the Proceedings of the Oxford Symposium on Food and Cookery, most of which have been made available for free in their entirety via Google Books. Each volume consists of about 25-40 papers surrounding the theme of that year's Symposium (e.g. Eggs, Authenticity, or The Meal). [more inside]
What aren't you reading? By looking at the top 5 most highlighted passages via Kindle in each book, Jordan Ellenberg has figured out which books are most unread: Take the page numbers of a book's five top highlights, average them, and divide by the number of pages in the whole book. He calls the result the Hawking Index, after the much-unread Brief History of Time, though Piketty seems to have knocked Hawking off his throne (all five top highlights come in the first 26 pages, out of 700). Also, everyone finishes The Goldfinch. Previous attempts to figure out what is least finished have been conducted by Goodreads (#1: Catch-22), and by the Guardian in 2007 (which may explain why Vernon God Little is #1), which included helpful summaries. What have you not finished recently?
Trans women writers Jeanne Thornton, Imogen Binnie, Red Durkin and Casey Plett read from their recent works for Talks at Google. [more inside]
In his new book Ciphers, German photographer Christopher Gielen (previously) reveals haunting images of our endlessly repetitive development through aerial views of American urban sprawl. [more inside]
Without You I'm Nothing: The Believer looks at the memoirs of the wives and girlfriends of rock stars.
Compound Interest makes infographics [index] covering chemistry basics and the chemistry behind every day phenomena, like the aroma of books, cilantro, and cell phones. In time for the 4th of July, the chemistry behind fireworks: gunpowder and color. Over on tumblr, Compound Interest answers questions about chemistry, dispels myths (glowsticks, MSG), promotes science (bad science, the dose makes the poison ) and other... things. Compound Interest has also teamed up with the American Chemical Society to make videos (why does bacon smell so good?). [more inside]
The Wikipedia Entry for Guam, Retold as a YA Novel This is just one of several awesome literary parodies on The Toast lately. Some others: Ever French Novel Ever My Prestigious Literary Novel and Just A Normal Bestselling Teen Novel
Describing Dame Muriel Spark's oeuvre as "a body of work singular in its violence, formal inventiveness, and scorching opening lines," Parul Sehgal's What Muriel Spark Saw examines the enduring appeal and the mystery of Spark's fiction, particularly the "monstruous" women: "What hash Spark's characters make of those eternal debates over unlikable characters or unlikable women." [more inside]
From June 2013, a new scheme, Reading Well Books on Prescription will be available in libraries throughout England. This new scheme has been developed by The Reading Agency and The Society of Chief Librarians and aims to bring reading's healing benefits to the 6 million people with anxiety, depression and other mild to moderate mental health illnesses. There is growing evidence showing that self-help reading can help people with certain mental health conditions get better. Reading Well Books on Prescription will enable GPs and mental health professionals to prescribe patients cognitive behavioural therapy through a visit to the library. Here they can get books to help them understand and manage conditions from depression to chronic pain.More on the program from the Boston Globe. Previously.
Call Me Ishmael: call a number and leave a voicemail about a book you've loved and a story you've lived. Later, that anonymous voicemail will be transcribed and made into a short video for everyone to see.
"Childhood, as I knew it, was rife with secrecy and weirdness, with actions that made sense to you but not anybody else. It’s no wonder that I fell in love with Moomin." Alex Ohlin writes about Tove Jansson and Moomin, for The Millions. [more inside]
Publishers Weekly: "What MTV did for music videos and record sales, BookReels wants to do for book trailers and book sales." No, but they have collected about 3000 book trailers and interviews. New Yorker: The Awkward Art of Book Trailers: "Then there is the leading book-trailer auteur of our time, Gary Shteyngart." TheRumpus: Fantastic Book Trailers and the Reasons They’re So Good: "There tends to exist a general skepticism toward book trailers."
Musings on, in the age of digitization and photocopies and the dying off of old collectors, what it means to be a book collector by Johan Kugelberg of Boo-Hooray (the guy who cataloged Afrika Bambaataa's collection for Cornell University, and I can't believe there isn't a Previously for that!) [more inside]
This year's Women's Prize For Fiction has been won by A Girl Is A Half-Formed Thing by Eimear McBride. [more inside]
Amazon is deprecating books published by the French publisher Hachette after Hachette refused to drop wholesale prices to Amazon in recent negotiations. Per the NY Times, Amazon is reporting delays on Hachette books, increasing their prices, and suggesting alternatives. Hachette has maintained silence on the issue to their authors but royalty statements and examining their listings on Amazon reveals the truth. Affected authors and their professional associations are speaking out to pressure Amazon. Meanwhile, Amazon is raising the stakes by refusing to accept pre-orders for some books on Hachette imprints, including those by popular authors like Robert Galbraith (J.K. Rowling).
A day in the life of New York City's public libraries: Traveling from borough to borough, this short documentary by Julie Dressner and Jesse Hicks reveals just how important the modern library is for millions of people. Why Libraries Matter.
CREW stands for Continuous Review Evaluation and Weeding, and the manual uses “crew” as a transitive verb, so one can talk about a library’s “crewing” its collection. It means weeding but doesn’t sound so harsh. [more inside]
Charles McNamara reviews Orbis Sensualium Pictus, the world's first picture book for children, in the Public Domain Review. If you care to instruct your own little ones on the subject of Stones, Potherbs, Flying Vermin, Bowels, and the Tormenting of Malefactors, the full book is available.
“If someone goes out on a limb and tries something different, and the book doesn’t sell, you know who to blame: the guy who didn’t put the acacia tree on the cover.” [more inside]
The literary novel as an art work and a narrative art form central to our culture is indeed dying before our eyes. Will Self on the future of the novel.
Who is Jon Snow's mother? What's up with the crazy seasons in Westeros? Why have the White Walkers returned after all this time? These questions and more have been the subject of much speculation and debate among fans of George R.R. Martin's Game of Thrones / A Song of Ice and Fire / Dunk and Egg universe for more than a decade. Fans have published their theories in forums, on fansites, and even as the occasional academic journal article. (Spoiler warning: All sources -- show, books, cut scenes, DVD special features, pre-released chapters, interviews, visions you got from a tree, etc. -- are fair game in this thread!) [more inside]
From grilled kidneys to gruel to open faced sandwiches to sliced up grapefruits, photos of literature's most memorable meals.
Shakespeare Jest-Books: Reprints of the Early and Very Rare Jest-Books Supposed to Have Been Used by Shakespeare.
Bonfire of the Humanities. "Nobody goes to Timbuktu, right? Patrick Symmes did, to discover what happened when jihadi rebels set out to burn one of the world’s finest collections of ancient manuscripts. Bouncing around by truck, boat, and boots, he got an intimate look at West Africa’s most mythic locale." [Via] [more inside]
In honor of National Library Week, Oxford University Press is making all of its non-journal products available online for free for the week of April 13th-19th, 2014. This includes the Oxford English Dictionary and the Oxford Handbook series. [more inside]
Classic Book Titles with Sarcastic Quotation Marks [SLListicle]
Julianne Ross asks: Must Every YA Action Heroine Be Petite? Amy McCarthy asks a similar question: Why do all our young adult heroines look the same? Mandy Stewart also offers up her own advice: Be Divergent and Other Lessons for My Daughter. Interview with Veronica Roth on her book 'Insurgent' and feminism. [more inside]
The July 23, 1966 issue of Norman Cousins' The Saturday Review used 30 pages to focus on The New Computerized Age (Link to chapter PDFs), digitized and licensed for your enjoyment by Unz.org. [more inside]
Killing Conservative Books: The Shocking End Of A Publishing Gold Rush A decade ago, mainstream publishers became convinced they could make millions by churning out books for the right — and now the bubble may be bursting. (SLBuzzFeed)
Bored with basketball but want some Tournament action in your March-to-Early April? MentalFloss.com has collected* a list of (More Than) 11 OTHER March Madness Tournaments, covering books, music, TV, webcomics, various flavors of sci-fi and fantasy, plus bunny slippers, hot dog toppings, the (previously here) WORST Company in America and MORE! [more inside]
Gender-specific books demean all our children. So the Independent on Sunday will no longer review anything marketed to exclude either sex [more inside]
"In 2011, when we blogged about the Shaftesbury Psalter (which may have belonged to Adeliza of Louvain; see below), we wrote that medieval manuscripts which had belonged to women were relatively rare survivals. This still remains true, but as we have reviewed our blog over the past few years, it has become clear that we must emphasize the relative nature of the rarity – we have posted literally dozens of times about manuscripts that were produced for, owned, or created by a number of medieval women." -- For International Womens' Day last week, the British Library's Medieval Manuscripts blog showcases a selection of manuscripts that belonged to some of the most remarkable women of the Middle Ages. [more inside]
This site has the aim of encouraging a wider reading of all types of literature, through a series of recipes inspired (directly or indirectly), by those works. It explores the ways in which descriptions of food are used to elicit meaning for a character trait, a foreign country, or social etiquette. [more inside]