Updates below (added images in post, link to tweet in middle, new links at bottom)
And more updates! Check out the comments for a generous response from @bookavore with useful context for how pricing works.
So, as you surely know, Google has finally opened their eBook venture, selling e-books (to use a variant spelling that has been dominating) both through their own eBookstore and through partnerships with independent bookstores. One of the big excitements about Google’s eBook program is the possibility of generating money for indies, who otherwise lose out the opportunity to generate revenue from digital books. So my first question was to wonder what it meant to go to an independent bookstore to get an electronic book. It’s not like you’re going to walk around the corner and chat with your local bookseller, right? I suppose you could do that, get their advice, and then go online and buy the book, but that seems odd to me. § continue reading →
A while back, Whitney Trettien posted about a reference she’d come across to an intriguing book called “The First of April: a blank poem in commendation of the suppos’d author of a poem lately publish’d, call’d Ridotto, or, Downfal of masquerades.” Whitney wasn’t able to see the work itself–the ESTC record lists copies only at NYU and Penn–but when I was up in Philadelphia last month, I stopped in at the University of Pennsylvania’s Rare Books and Manuscripts Library to take a look.
It is, as Whitney indicates, a curious thing. What makes it curious is that this is a “blank poem” that is not blank in the sense of “blank verse”, which is the way in which Richard Steere’s 1713 work uses the phrase:
Rather, “The First of April” (probably published around 1724) is blank in the sense that the pages are blank: as Foxon notes, “The poem is indeed blank; all that is printed is a dedication to ‘No Body’ on pp.iii-viii, and footnotes on pp.9-11.”
Here are some shots of what the book looks like. § continue reading →
As I’ve spent more time reading on my iPad, I’ve come to more realizations about how I read. The most surprising thing is how much I miss sharing books. This is more complicated than it sounds. I knew, of course, that you can’t really share e-books, but I have never really been someone who likes to share books. I’m happy to borrow books, but I get nervous loaning mine out. They come back beat up, or they don’t come back at all and then I resent the person who has my book, or I can’t remember who I loaned it to and it’s gone forever. So I’m not a big book sharer. And since my family shares a single Kindle account, my spouse and my son and I can all share books across our devices–even better, we can read that book simultaneously on our separate devices. But what I failed to account for is the fact that I do actually loan out my books. § continue reading →
No, I don’t mean it’s time to write your own news sheet newsbook. It’s time to fold your ownnewsbook! Why would you want to do this? Well, for one thing, it’s a handy way to understand and demonstrate to others the general principle of early modern format: multiple pages are printed onto a single sheet in the correct order so that when folded, they appear sequentially. It’s like magic! Or, um, folding.
Above is a numbered example of the same newsbook that I used as an image in my last post. The red numbers are page numbers: folded in the right way, you’d get an 8-page booklet in the order indicated. But if you look closely, you’ll see that the actual news sheet doesn’t have page numbers. Instead, there are signatures: at the bottom of the first page is a tiny, blotted “L”; at the bottom of the 5th page is a tiny “L3” (the “L2” has been cut off at some point when the page was trimmed). § continue reading →
I’ve spent a good portion of my summer thinking about how to revise my syllabus for the early modern book history seminar I teach. This fall will be the sixth time I’ve taught this course, and while it’s been working well, it’s also time to shake it up a bit. Too much familiarity with the material doesn’t breed contempt, but it can lead to a complacency. I’ve been browsing in the stacks, reading new finds, and thinking about what I want students to learn and how best to achieve that.
There are some key factors that shape how I approach teaching this course. First, it’s a multi-disciplinary course, drawing students from different majors, primarily English and History, but also French, Art History, Theology, and Music. Because it’s important that all these students feel welcome in and learn from this course, it cannot be too oriented toward any single subject. On the other hand, it is a course at the Folger Shakespeare Library and one that draws on the strengths of the Library’s collections; that means that the focus of the course is explicitly early modern, concentrating on the last fifteenth century through the end of the seventeenth. § continue reading →
I’ve been thinking a lot recently about the experience of reading. Part of this is about the technologies of reading, but part of this is about the nature of reading and processing words.
Some context is helpful here: this spring we sold our house and moved into a new house. As part of this process, we overhauled the old house, cleaning it out and making it look fabulously inviting (those of you who watch a lot of HGTV or live in housing-market-obsessed areas will recognize this as “staging”, a term that deserves its own post on an entirely different blog). We bowed to the wisdom of our realtor, who went through our house and identified the furniture and clutter that ought to be cleared out. Right up at the top of the list were all of our bookshelves and, obviously, books. This is the point when my bookish friends yelp in horror–“Why are books unattractive?!”–but as someone who has been shopping for houses, I have to agree with the realtor on this point. § continue reading →