Monday, December 29, 2008

"The Night Bookmobile", Audrey Niffenegger

The Night Bookmobile, a serialized graphic novel by Audrey Niffenegger start at the beginning.


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Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Book Gift Ideas

More a self-promotion than anything: over at Collector's Quest I've penned an article with some of the cooler gifts for the book-lover in your life, because you've probably already bought them all the bookmarks, bookends, and bookplates that they'll ever need.

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Friday, December 12, 2008


Ah, Christmas: a time when kids are thrown into a brand new set of social norms that don't apply at all to the rest of the year. Of course they're going to freak out once in a while; we've all seen it happen in the toy section of Wal-Mart, or at the freeway-exit McDonald's on Christmas-Eve-morning, but the place it ends up recorded is Santa's lap. In past years, the Chicago Tribune has been collecting these cheery photos and publishing them online and in the paper, but now that lots of other newspapers have tried their hand at it (I'm posting them at Thingsville as I find them), So, the Tribune editors have taken it big-time and published their own book of the screamy pictures. Buy it for your mom, to take that edge off her rosy memories of your childhood. She'll appreciate it.

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Lying About Books

Being a reader appears to be a huge banner for being a quality person, because half of men and a third of women will lie to their friends and lovers about reading in order to appear smarter or more attractive than they really are. The study's data doesn't say whether this is more or less than anything else that people lie about: fandom for a sports team when you're not really into football, or knowing something about cars when you don't really, or putting in a CD that you bought just because the other person indicated they liked it. People jump through all sorts of hoops to increase their appeal, but the reputation of bookish people being lame doesn't seem to hold up: people want to look more well-read than they already are. Now, if only more would actually do the reading...


Thursday, December 11, 2008

NYPL Book Cover Library

The New York Public Library, as the excellent archivists they are, have compiled an archive of those dustjackets that are so often torn or missing when you buy them at thrift shops and used book stores. Most seem to hail from the 1940s — lots of Nazi/Axis-related books — but a lot of fine WPA-style art that I miss so. Beware: give yourself time, you could lose hours.

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Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Tending Your Bookshelves

The Wifey and I aren't so good at this (and, I must admit, I'm better at it than the Wifey); our recent solution was to buy some taller shelves to put more books on. Laura Miller of the New York Times was forced into the position by a need for repainted walls. Like a fine English garden, you need to do some pruning and cultivating for a book collection to remain clean, pretty, and wanderable. Your criteria for what's a weed and what's a flower is a matter of your personality.

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Paperback Frames

If you're like me, you've bought paperbacks purely because the cover was so awesome (I love my 1960s The Demolished Man) &mdash and some creative types have devised a way to display these works of art as works of art, by framing them on the wall, but leaving them accessible:


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Thursday, December 04, 2008

Books In Film: The Anderson Tapes

Book adaptations are still one of the biggest sources of screenplay adaptations, so much that the Oscars have a special category for it. But, when's the last time that the book got billing above the star?

The Anderson Tapes appears to still be in print, at least according to Amazon, but there doesn't seem to be much interest in it; the book has three stars from Amazon reviewers, and they don't even have a picture of the cover up. The film, however, has a brand new DVD edition out just a couple months ago. In 1971, the book drove people to the theater; in 2008, it's Sean Connery.

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George Orwell Writes A Novel

Click the image for the rest of the comic:
By this person (who organizes their blog poorly, hence the jpeg link), found via these people.

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Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Fail: Bookstore Fun

I'm a fan of humorously-captioned photos (I'm an expert at making LOLCats), but it turns out that even a bookstore can fail entertainingly:

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Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Nude Calendar For Library

The community of Barre, MA, has a library in need of money. In digging for innovative ways to come up with funding, it followed the path of so many other communities in need of financing: a nude calendar.

There's nothing overly library-like about the mostly-nude photos (and imagine the outrage if such a thing were on the library's shelves!), but having a town called "Barre" generally encourages some clotheslessness. As with most community-based nude calendars, the nudity was tastefully PG-13, and at $20 a pop the library had made about $10,000 in its first weekend.

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Monday, December 01, 2008

Always Collect

...and not in just the "Hummel figurines" kind of collecting.

Only Collect; that is to say, collect everything, indiscriminately. You’re five years old. Don’t presume too much to know what’s important and what isn’t. Photocopy journal articles, photograph archives; create bibliographies, buy books; make notes on every article or book you read, even if it’s just one line saying “Never read this again”; collect newspaper clippings and email them to yourself; collect quotes; save your ideas for future papers, future projects, future conferences, even if they seem wildly implausible now. Hoarding must become instinctual, it must be an uncontrollable, primal urge. And the higher, civilizing impulse that kicks in after the fact is organization, or librarianship.
The website is "A Historian's Craft," and the recommendation to collect is as a jumping-off point for a lifetime of historical scholarism. The focus is to make sure you have references available when beginning to assemble data — which a wise option for anybody aspiring to be a writer. Arthur Mee, creator of the Self-Educator and the Children's Encyclopedia, kept an enoromous catalog of clippings and references to pull his information from. Authors, whether writing a textbook or writing a short story, need to pull information from someplace, and a long-held fallacy is that everything comes from a spark of inspiration deep inside a talented-person's brain. Talent may have a lot to do with the quality of writing, but in terms of content the amount of information you put into your writing is directly related to the amount of information you have at hand. Unless you can rely entirely on your brain, it is far easier to amass a library to refer to. Especially if you have no idea what the future may bring: the wifey and I were recently discussing a series of children's books set in pre-WWII Europe. I have no library of 1930s Europe in my head, but we do have plenty of early 20th century books and magazines. I'll be more successful relying on the books than my own memory of high school history class. (via)

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Bill and Ted's Offset Adventure

Somebody stole Ben Franklin and brought him to the future! where he learns all about modern printing and communications methods that make his paltry "newsletters" and "declarations" seem boring, lame, and expensive to produce. I bet he sure feels insignificant, now that today we can print out hundreds of thousands of "Buy one get the second ½ off" coupons for Burger King in a matter of minutes. I know, Kodak isn't a content producer, but I think a lot of people are on the same page as Kodak and think any message, prettied up by expensive printing methods, is better than ever. In reality, the message is more important than the message, unless the medium is used really well, but that's rarely the truth. The video is one produced by Kodak to lead students and other prospective employees into the printing business:

Getting serious, though, one statistic from the video stands out: an expected 14% growth in bindery jobs. Today, binderies rely heavily on books and magazines for their business, two segments of the print industry that are lamenting their approaching deaths. What are these binders going to be binding? They must know that, even if the editorial end shifts, somebody still has to stitch and glue the spines. As I've said before, the death of publishing isn't going to be an end of publishing, but a death of how publishing companies have been run, $120 dinners and all.

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