You probably have something fun planned for this weekend, but in case you’ve got some wide open time and want to take a look at something both extremely obsessive and extremely interesting, we direct you to this growing database of vintage book cover scans at Bookscans.com. The site’s goal, according to its operator, is to “provide a visual catalog of ALL vintage American paperbacks (for my purposes, this is roughly the first 20 years of paperback-sized books; especially those printed before 1960 and/or having a 25¢ or 35¢ cover price).”
At the site, you’ll find tens of thousands of images like the one above, representing an extraordinary collective consciousness of creative energy and marketing. In this age of accessible digital archives, it seems like a true shame to lose artifacts like these book covers, which tell more than words can about bygone eras. Thankfully, due to this site, among other resources, we don’t have to.
Twenty-Somethings: The Millions looks at the droves of twenty-somethings diving into the literary scene.
Writing Life: Richard Ford, on the other hand, talks to the Guardian about whether his writing for a living really counts as work.
Wedding Watch: Will and Kate books for Royal Wedding watchers. From the CS Monitor.
Library Porn: Salon wonders whether we should allow the viewing of porn in libraries.
Go the F– to Sleep: A naughtily-titled children’s book for adults goes viral. From the NYT.
Mr. Portman’s Fertility Thriller: Natalie Portman’s dad (whose last name isn’t actually Portman) is self-publishing a creepy thriller about fertility, and Salon has the details.
I was talking to a very bookish friend the other day (and, of course, I’m very bookish myself, so it was a bookish conversation) about the advantages and disadvantages of e-books. Not the bravest or newest topic under the sun these days, but one that keeps coming up as we are continually choosing between lifting a print book off the shelves or download one to an e-reader or smartphone. I still flip-flop about how I feel like reading: right now I’m in a print books mode.
Anyway, one of the things that came up in this discussion was the fact that e-books are bad at nonlinear reading, meaning they make it hard to flip back and forth around a book. Both my friend and I are the kind of readers who read the kinds of books–essays, poetry, stories, other kinds of nonfiction–that we don’t often read from cover to cover in order. We might read a piece in the front of the book, then skip to the end, then back to the middle or the front. This kind of reading is not easy or fun with e-b00ks, but works great with paper.
Of course, you can search for terms in e-books, but it’s almost impossible, for instance, to find that great bunch of paragraphs you know is about two fingers from the end of the book. All the virtual dog-earing and bookmarking on all the Kindles and iPads in the world doesn’t solve this problem. Nonlinear reading just works better on paper.
So here’s what I want to know: do you have that same problem? Are there other things that print books do better than e-books? Or am I just being grouchy over nothing? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.
One Book Store: The NYT looks at a clever marketing ploy by a young author, who rented out a bookstore in NY to sell just one book, his.
Labyrinth: New Haven’s Labyrinth may close if a new owner isn’t found in the next two weeks. From the Yale Daily News.
April Showers Brings Celebrity Books in May: Celebs including Dick Van Dyke and Betty White will publish books next month. From USA Today.
Dorian Gray: Harvard University Press is bringing out an uncensored version of Oscar Wilde’s classic 120 years after it was condemned. From the Guardian.
Digital Book 2011 Speakers Announced: IDPF will host Peter Brantley and Greg Bear, among others.
From Jeff Bezos, with Love: Amazon’s founder and CEO wrote a letter to shareholders explaining Amazon’s upcoming moves. From AllThingsDigital.
Amazon is very proudly sending notices that it has started shipping its newest Kindle family member, the Kindle with Special Offers, about a week early, starting today. In case you missed the announcement on this one, the Kindle with Special Offers is a WiFi Kindle 3 that only costs $114 because the difference in price (from the usual $139) is subsidized by Advertising, from Amazon itself as well as a few other companies so far. These advertisements appear on the screen saver–where there’d normally be a drawing of a classic author–not, thankfully, in the e-book text itself.
I’m curious to know what you think about this? Is it a nightmare or fairly harmless? A few questions about the device jump to my mind:
- Why ads on an e-reader? Simply because it’s one place there haven’t been ads til now? Because it’s a screen we carry around?
- Do these ads interrupt the reading experience more than the ads we’re accustomed to on Web sites, where our reading is constantly interrupted?
- Where will Amazon and other e-reader makers go from here?
I’d love to hear from you.
Simon Barron at the Guardian made a disturbing observation about Google’s business practices this week, noting that Google recently announced it would be deleting all the content uploaded to its Google Video service by users (though after a public outcry, the company said it would find new homes for as much content as possible) in order to refocus its efforts on its core business of search. Barron feels this has bad implications for Google Books, which also comprises tons of content entrusted to Google’s care, and he worries Google could one day decide to reprioritize, jeopardizing all those book scans.
Here’s more from the article:
As a private sector company, the core aim of Google is to make money. The Google Videos situation shows that in order to lower expenditure and adjust its priorities, Google was willing to delete content entrusted to it by users. Libraries have trusted Google with millions of documents: many of the books scanned by Google are not digitised or OCR-processed anywhere else and, with budgets for university libraries shrinking year after year, may not be digitised again any time in the near future. Google acted admirably by listening to users and working to save the videos but entrusting such vast cultural archives to a body that has no explicit responsibilities to protection, archiving and public cultural welfare is inherently dangerous: as the situation made clear, private sector bodies have the ability to destroy archives at a whim.
Certainly we can’t trust Google’s promise not to “be evil,” but it would seem that the company believes in the Books project (it was one of Google’s founders’ first hopes and plans for the company), but what do you think? Are our book in jeopardy? Or is Google a safe library?
Amazon’s Building Binge: Amazon’s income falls due to continued warehouse and fulfillment center building. From the NYT.
More Madoff: Now Bernie Madoff’s daughter-in-law is shopping a book proposal. From New York.
Russell Crowe, Director: The actor may make his directorial debut on a film based on a James Ellroy story. From the Guardian.
William Faulkner’s Class: Transcriptions of Faulkner’s to-the-point advice for young writing students. From Indielick.
Robert Gottlieb, Writer: Salon’s Laura Miller looks at the legendary editor’s new book.
On Reading and Tuna: We’ll let the Millions explain….
Sony’s Tablets: The Bookseller takes a quick look at Sony’s upcoming entry into the tablet market.
iPad Killer: In Tokyo this morning, Sony introduced a new tablet that it hopes will compete with the iPad. It will be released sometime later this year.
True Lies: Sam Tenanhaus talks to NPR about why it’s hard to verify memoirs.
Down in Memphis: Davis-Kidd employees are overwhelmed by customers’ concern over the fate of a Memphis store. From the Commercial Appeal.
Product Pages: The WSJ looks product placement in digital books.
In Book Country: The NYT looks at Penguin’s new online venture, Book Country, an online author community devoted to genre fiction.
Special Occasions Bookstore to Close: This store in Winston-Salem, NC will close in late May.
Publishing and APIs: Publishing Perspectives examines how the development of a publishing API could help publishers connect to readers via digital platforms.
Today, Amazon launched a new series of author interviews called Author Interviews @ Amazon, as well as a new author content site destination called The Backstory, which houses the new interview series as well as other author content, including podcasts, guest reviews, interviews, author-created playlists. The new interview series will be presented as video interviews featuring questions submitted by Amazon customers via the Amazon Facebook page and a dedicated email address (firstname.lastname@example.org).
The new video series begins with five new videos just posted today with authors including Joshua Foer and Holly Black.
Re-Meet the Nook: B&N has a new ad campaign for the Nook. From the NYT.
Sendak on Death: Maurice Sendak confronts mortality while also remembering a mural he painted a long time ago. From the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Book Covers Remixed: Designers remake classic book covers. From Flavorpil.
When Social Media and Real Life Don’t Match: A blogger visits an indie bookstore whose active Twitter presence isn’t present in the store itself.
Time 100: Jonathan Franzen, Jennifer Egan and Patti Smith are the writers on Time‘s list of the 100 most influential people of the year.
Page to Screen: Open Road’s Jeffrey Sharp writes about the changing landscapes and new relationships between books and film. From TribecaFilm.com.
Poets in the Schools: The Oregonian has some advice for students: write poetry…