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Books

Form factor fun, Renaissance style
January 29, 2014 | 1:25 pm

renaissanceThought that only Kindles and other ereader devices could fit multiple books into one form factor? Think again. Courtesy of Erik Kwakkel, a medieval book historian at Leiden University in The Netherlands, a much-publicized report on a late 16th-century so-called dos-à-dos (back-to-back) book which actually includes six titles in a single binding. "They are all devotional texts printed in Germany during the 1550s and 1570s (including Martin Luther's Der kleine Catechismus) and each one is closed with its own tiny clasp," notes Kwakkel. The original volume itself comes from the Rogge Library in Strängnäs, held under the auspices of the National Library...

If this can happen, then please, no more book covers. Ever.
January 13, 2014 | 6:28 pm

book coversWe now have one more reason to look forward to the death of the book. It' s to minimize the recurrence of atrocious cultural crimes like the recent sale at auction for £3,554,500 ($5,684,356) of a painting by British artist Glenn Brown that faithlessly copies a science fiction book cover illustration by Chris Foss, Isaac Asimov’s The Stars Like Dust. Foss himself, apparently, got nothing. [caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="448"] As an exercise in conceptual art, I'm not quoting the source of this image. Now pay me $5 million[/caption] Brown, it seems, does this regularly - repainting the work of book artists and others...

The Lost Art of Letter Writing
January 11, 2014 | 12:26 pm

letter writingOne of the odd little treasures we found amongst my late grandfather's shelves full of esoteric bibliophilia was a book of his own creation: a binder full of letters he wrote to his synagogue over several months in 1993. Grandpa was an avid letter writer, and we did found countless other loose missives amongst his papers, but this particular set was unique in that the letters---both those he wrote and the responses he received---are preserved in a chronological fashion, and when read in sequence, they tell a complete story. It's a somewhat ridiculous story, granted; it involves a dispute he had with...

Might an algorithm for predicting success of novels offer hope for the slushpile?
January 10, 2014 | 9:17 am

Scientists have analyzed what goes into a best-selling or poorly-performing novel, and come up with an algorithm that predicts a book’s commercial success with an 84% success rate. Oddly enough, the criteria for commercial success seem to be the same sorts of advice you get from writing coaches and workshops: They found several trends that were often found in successful books, including heavy use of conjunctions such as “and” and “but” and large numbers of nouns and adjectives. Less successful work tended to include more verbs and adverbs and relied on words...

Riverhead Books creates 3D-printed book cover
January 9, 2014 | 2:44 pm

riverhead books Riverhead Books is looking to do something different with books – physical books. Riverhead partnered with Makerbot to create a 3D-printed slipcover for Chang-rae Lee’s On Such a Full Sea, according to this post in TIME. The slipcover raises the letters of the title, and these will be available in a limited capacity. Just 200 signed copies were created. These slipcovers weren’t simple to make. According to Time, each slipcover took 15 hours to print with prototypes taking up to 30 hours. Riverhead’s art director, Helen Yentus, told TIME: “I didn’t even think we’d be able to do it, because it’s such a new...

Book Collections and Inheritance: The Quandary
January 3, 2014 | 4:00 pm

book collections and inheritanceOne thing the 'I love the smell of paper' people seldom talk about is what happens to your paper book collection when you die. We've been facing this issue in my family this week, clearing out the home of my grandpa, who just passed away at 90 years of age, over sixty of which he spent in this one house. Disposing of his books is not as straightforward an issue as it might appear. Grandpa was an autodidact of eclectic interests and some of his books are of a very peculiar nature. He was a master woodworker and most of his...

Lawyer who revealed Robert Galbraith as Rowling fined
January 1, 2014 | 11:02 am

Robert Galbraith Even though J.K. Rowling’s book The Cuckoo’s Calling jumped to the top of bestseller lists, the lawyer who outed the author is not enjoying the success. Lawyer Christopher Gossage revealed to his wife’s friend that author Robert Galbraith was actually Rowling, who penned the Harry Potter books. She let it slip and soon enough everyone else found out. Gossage has been hit with a £1,000 fine for breach of confidentiality, The Guardian reported. So while some are reaping the success of The Cuckoo’s Calling (Rowling and Little Brown), one man has nothing but bad things come his way since. It may not seem...

Walter Isaacson: Crowdsourcing Content For Next Book
December 31, 2013 | 11:19 am

walter isaacsonWalter Isaacson is looking for your help. The author has previewed the first two chapters of his new book The Birth of Online on Medium.com. In Isaacson’s own words, the book is about “innovations of the digital era.” He has put the chapters online to get feedback from a variety of places. Isaacson, who authored biographies on Steve Jobs and Albert Einstein, wrote, “Online collaboration is why the Internet was originally built, and I’m interested in any comments or corrections readers might want to make before I publish in a year” Crowdsourcing is not a new concept, but in this case it seems...

Banned books on the rise in the U.S.
December 26, 2013 | 6:31 pm

banned booksThere were several news stories that popped up about banned books in 2013. While I felt there more than usual, it could just have been the extra attention paid to these stories. Sometimes media coverage can skew how often events are actually happening. However, in this case, book banning seems to be on the rise in the United States, according to Kids’ Right to Read Project in a story in The Guardian. The KRRP is an anti-censorship group that is part of the National Coalition Against Censorship. According to the group, it investigated 49 incidents of book banning or removals from shelves in...

Book Patrol proclaims undeath of the book
December 24, 2013 | 7:36 pm

I'm not sure whether any of us pro-ebook pundits was actually expecting the death of the printed book, but it seems a lot of people thought we were. So much so that Book Patrol has decided it should proclaim that "The Worst is Over and The Book is not Dead." Rumors of the rumors of the death of the book were greatly exaggerated, maybe. I'm sure the book's relatives and family are breathing a sigh of relief outside the OR. So perhaps some people are jumping to correct a caricature impression here, but when it comes with such a funky infographic, who...

Christmas Eve in a bookstore: How it used to be
December 24, 2013 | 12:58 pm

100326VaughnCarrie Vaughn, author of the Kitty Norville werewolf novels, has posted to her blog an amusing tale of the Christmas Eves she used to work in a bookstore, right after college. She explains that she actually loved working Christmas Eve, in spite of the conventional wisdom about holiday-season retail, because last-minute bookstore shoppers were generally very easy to please, and in miraculously helping them find exactly what she needed, she got to “[feel] like Wonder Woman.” Because bookstores are, for the most part, staffed by intelligent, well-read people who want nothing more than to foist vast...

Lucky kids get ‘reading net’ in their parents’ in-home library
December 23, 2013 | 11:26 am

booknetYou know, this isn’t what they usually mean by “reading on the ‘net.” As if I didn’t have enough reasons to be jealous of a family that can afford to keep an in-home multistory library/reading room, such a family went and commissioned an interior design firm to figure out how to make reading in it more appealing to kids. So they spread out a great big hammock-like net to give the kids their own space to flop down and read their books. (More photos at the link.) Hey, forget kids, that would make reading more appealing to this 40-year-old...