Thursday, December 04, 2014

Unique gift inscription in book

I purchased this used book at a thrift store. I had never read a work by this author before but I had read numerous positive reviews of her work. I was just going to buy the book on that basis but then I found the gift inscription in the front of the book and I had to buy it.

Usually a gift inscription is positive (e.g. I loved this book.) not it left me paranoid and apprehensive.

If you think you know what the book is leave a comment to this post with your guess. I will reveal the title of the book on December 12th unless someone guesses it first. If a correct guess is provided in the comments I will confirm that it is the correct answer within 24 hours of the guess being posted.

Another hint about the book - It was published in the 1990's.

Update - The book is --- "The Parable of the Sower" by Octavia Butler

No More Word Puzzles: Google Can Tell You're Human With One Click

A squiggly word puzzle pops up as you're trying to buy concert tickets. You stare at the words, scratching your head, as time disappears for you to purchase those tickets. Your first few attempts are utter failures, and you wonder why confirming your humanity on the Internet has to be so difficult.

Those mind-bending days are over. Google announced Wednesday the launch of "No CAPTCHA reCAPTCHA," which gets rid of CAPTCHAs — those complicated distorted word puzzles — and can tell you're not a robot with just one click. Now the person just has to click a checkbox next to the statement "I'm not a robot."

Full story here.

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

The Late Age of Print: Everyday Book Culture from Consumerism to Control

 Ted Striphas argues that, although the production and propagation of books have undoubtedly entered a new phase, printed works are still very much a part of our everyday lives. With examples from trade journals, news media, films, advertisements, and a host of other commercial and scholarly materials, Striphas tells a story of modern publishing that proves, even in a rapidly digitizing world, books are anything but dead.

From the rise of retail superstores to Oprah's phenomenal reach, Striphas tracks the methods through which the book industry has adapted (or has failed to adapt) to rapid changes in twentieth-century print culture. Barnes & Noble, Borders, and have established new routes of traffic in and around books, and pop sensations like Harry Potter and the Oprah Book Club have inspired the kind of brand loyalty that could only make advertisers swoon. At the same time, advances in digital technology have presented the book industry with extraordinary threats and unique opportunities.

Striphas's provocative analysis offers a counternarrative to those who either triumphantly declare the end of printed books or deeply mourn their passing. With wit and brilliant insight, he isolates the invisible processes through which books have come to mediate our social interactions and influence our habits of consumption, integrating themselves into our routines and intellects like never before.

Link to book on Amazon: The Late Age of Print: Everyday Book Culture from Consumerism to Control

Merchants of Culture: The Publishing Business in the Twenty-First Century

For nearly five centuries, the world of book publishing remained largely static. But at the dawn of the twenty-first century, the industry faces a combination of economic pressures and technological change that is forcing publishers to alter their practices and think hard about the future of the book.

John Thompson's riveting account dissects the roles of publishers, agents, and booksellers in the United States and Britain, charting their transformation since the 1960s. Offering an in-depth analysis of how the digital revolution is changing the game today, Merchants of Culture is the one book that anyone with a stake in the industry needs to read.

Link to book on Amazon: Merchants of Culture: The Publishing Business in the Twenty-First Century

Monday, November 03, 2014

Saccharin ebooks

What if a company paid to have their product placed inside the story line of a book?

If this idea leaves a bad taste in your mouth, you may find it ironic that this idea has been done and the company that did the sponsoring was Sweet 'N Low. The book is titled Find Me I'm Yours and the previously mentioned sugar substitute has been worked into the story line in several places.

The book is tied in with a series of websites. A small alternative media universe has been created to go along with the book. NYT article with additional details - E-Book Mingles Love and Product Placement

Sunday, November 02, 2014

Disclaimer in the book "In Cold Type"

The book titled "The Book Publishing Industry" had the following paragraph about "In Cold type" and the disclaimer.

Mike Shatzkin, son of the author, has the following blog post - Why Dad’s book had a disclaimer from the publisher

Leo's Book and Wine -- In Cold Type

I bought a copy of the book "In Cold Type" by Leonard Shatzkin. The book was published in the early 1980's. The sub-title of the book is "Overcoming the Book Crisis." For those that do not know crises in the book industry did not start with

When the book arrived the first thing I noticed was the sticker on the front that at one time it had been sold at "Leo's Book and Wine Shop".

I knew nothing about Leo's but I found it interesting that a book about the publishing industry would be sold by a wine shop. I did some searching online and found that Leo's was a bookstore in Toledo, Ohio and was open from 1967 - 2009.

I found a 2009 article - Leo's writes final chapter for family's bookstore - that discusses the closing of the bookstore. The founder's son Daryl had taken over the business for his father. In the article he does attribute the current problems with the store to the changes in the publishing industry and online book sales but he also mentions another significant issue PARKING.

Excerpt from the article - Mr. Yourist said aggressive parking meter enforcement also contributed because it lessened customer traffic. He had a parking ticket on his desk that he said he would pay for his attorney, and lamented that the only way small businesses could survive in the area is to have their own parking lots.

“When people get a $10 parking ticket because they've stayed longer than an hour, they're not going to come here to shop,” he said. “And until something is done about that, there won't be any retail downtown for a long time.”

A picture of the closed Leo's store with a FOR SALE sign in the window. (Note the parking meter - please read the full article because I readily concede that the parking was only a piece of multiple things that impacted this business)

Leo Yourist, the store's founder, passed in 2011. Nice article with some details of his life and store can be seen here - Leo Yourist, 1920-2011: Bookstore owner a downtown fixture

Friday, October 31, 2014

Roger Ebert's 4 Star Movie Guide and Serendipity

In the late 1980's BASF had a package of videotapes that included a book of movie reviews by RogerEbert. The guide had the same dimensions as a videotape.

What I like about Ebert reviews, actually more than like - but am amazed by, is how in a relatively short review there is meaningful insight. Sometimes the insight is into the movie or an actor but sometimes it is about life, the world, or humanity.

Found books have always interested me. The serendipity of books beguiles me. How many people have been influenced or changed by a found book?

Numerous people bought these tapes wanting the book. But then others were exposed to the book because of the purchase.

Alex Ross, music critic for The New Yorker, was one of the people that found and was influenced by the book. Excerpt from his article Learning From Ebert - In the nineteen-eighties, when I was in high school, my parents bought a VHS player, and, with it, an Ebert video guide, in which various of his Chicago Sun-Times reviews were collected. Through that book, I found dozens of my favorite films. 

I also think of the book-less homes that ended up with a book because the 4 package set of videotapes was a good deal. I wonder how many kids, teenagers, or adults, who like Alex Ross, found this book and discovered bigger worlds because of what they read. The movies that were seen/rented that never would have been seen had this book not fallen into their lives.

The chaos theory butterfly flapped its wings, a page was turned, and the world ended up a little different because of a book falling into odd corners of America.

I ran into a copy on a thrift store shelf a few years ago. I bought that copy because I remembered seeing the VHS/book set in the video store when video stores were a thing. Thanks to Amazon and the Internet, if you had any interest in getting a copy, one can now be easily found.

Monday, March 31, 2014

The scale of Wikipedia in print

NPR has a story about a group that is looking to create a print copy of Wikipedia to allow people to see a physical representation of how big Wikipedia is. Here is the estimate of how big a print version of Wikipedia would be - One thousand volumes, 1,200 pages each — more than one million pages in all — about 80 meters of shelf space.

The article has this additional quote about Wikipedia - "Nobody can imagine this number. It's only when you see this in print or in a physical form that you realize how large it really is."

What is ironic is that when you get this in physical form it is really not that big. The following picture shows a range of books in a library. In this picture there are 771 volumes. Each volume is 1300 - 1500 pages. If we use the low end of the page range and take that times the number of volumes - 771 volumes X 1300 pages = 1,002,300 pages.

Admittedly this is bigger than your average set of printed encyclopedias. So comparing the picture above to the picture below you get the difference between Wikipedia and a regular encyclopedia set.

But to the scale of a library Wikipedia is not that huge.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Synchronicity bookshelf

Synchronicity bookshelf 

 Go to your local library and randomly select several books. I have found 5 to be a number that works well. Then you check the books out and browse them during the checkout period. If you really enjoy the book you are welcome to read the entire book but you can also just reads portions of a book. Reading portions allows you to learn about things you might not have otherwise read about. The idea is to be exposed to new things.

Why do I call it a Synchronicity bookshelf?

Synchronicity is the experience of two or more events as meaningfully related, whereas they are unlikely to be causally related. The subject sees it as a meaningful coincidence, although the events need not be exactly simultaneous in time. (Definition from Wikipedia)

I have had numerous occasions where the brief blurbs I have read from a book have been useful in a conversation or project. What I find odd/humorous is that the smallest things I have pulled from a book become amazingly relevant.

Here is my one of my best examples of that. One time when I was selecting books one of the books that I picked up was a cultural dictionary. The idea behind the dictionary was to lay out the major terms and concepts that someone should be aware of as part of our culture.

I had opened the dictionary and read one entry. The entry was on the Summa Theologica, one of the best known works of Thomas Aquinas. The dictionary was doing it's job because before that moment I did not know anything about the Summa Theologica. The next day a person comes into the library and says to me that they are working on an analysis of Summa Theologica. I respond, "Ohh the major work of Thomas Aquinas." The person thought I was extremely knowledgeable because I knew about the Summa Theologica. I did disclose to them that I had only learned about it the day before.

Here are my current 5 synchronicity books:

The Art of Cruelty
Learned about Marina Abramović and her performance art - Rhythm 0
Book was not just about Ms. Abramovic but other artist as well.

The Octagon House Inventory
Book list octagon houses around the country. I learned about this book from the inventory book - The Octagon House: A Home for All. I even saw an octagon house in another city that I don't think I would have noticed. I was in another state visiting friends and while driving through the city I noticed what I thought was an octagon house. When I got home I looked at the octagon house inventory and the house was listed with a picture. The house was not in a prominent place so had I not read this book I don't think I ever would have noticed it.

My Secret Life on the McJob
I have read almost all of this book and will likely finish it. It is about a business professor that gets jobs at fast food restaurants to gain inside information on the businesses. It has been an interesting read so far. One major take away point is that fast food work is hard work and you should appreciate the people that work at these businesses.

The most they ever had
Book is about the people that worked in the textile mills. The parts of the book I have looked at so far focus on the closing of the mills in the late 20th century and the impact this had on the people. I found the book very engrossing and after reading it I felt a connection with these communities.

The Deviant's Advantage
This was the book out of the five that I thought I would pull the neatest things from. Currently I have not really connected with any of the sections of this book. The author created a term "devox" that is the voice, spirit, or incarnation of deviant ideas, products, and individuals. Really did not that they presented this concept very well. Term is mentioned all through the book but the description I listed above is the extent they seem to explain the term.

Availability of these books outside the library
Out of the 5 books the only one that I did not see on Amazon at all was the octagon house book  Not only are there no copies available but there is no record for the book at all. The book does show in Worldcat. Some things you can only get at your library. Three of the 5 books can be obtained as ebooks. The book - The most they ever had - is available for less than $6 as an ebook.

Additional comments on the Synchronicity bookshelf
If you try this remember you do not to read the entire book. You just look at each book to the extent that you want. I think it is useful to at least look over the table of contents, read the first and last chapter, and read anything you noticed in the table of contents that catches your interest. But in the end you make the rules and you engage with each book to the extent it keeps your interest.

Additional comments on selecting books
One major idea that I try to incorporate is that I am trying to look at books that I would not necessarily have looked at otherwise because the goal is to discover new things. When I am browsing library shelves I don't want to pick just what catches my eye because I may be picking things that are related to ideas I am already very familiar with. One way to address this is that I will go into a row and mentally pick out a location like - 3rd stack, one shelf from the top, and a the third book from the left on the shelf. I then find that book and check it out. Then the selection is not because I found the cover pretty or the topic was something I knew. Because I usually select 5 books I use a little different process for each book. Usually two of the books are selected by the physical method location I just discussed but I will also pick some of the books by looking for ones that look interesting to me. The idea is to get a diversity of books to explore.

Fiction vs. Nonfiction
Personally I usually select just nonfiction books but I think it can be a good idea to select books from both areas.