May 4, 2010

Three more days

Posted in e-books, education, Reading, Software, technology, typography at 7:13 am by India

Deprecated!

India, Ink., has moved. The live version of this post is now located at http://ink.indiamos.com/2010/05/04/three-more-days/. Sorry for the inconvenience!

Thesis Book 2010

This Thursday at 12:40 p.m., I have to publicly present some sort of something about my vague and fugitive master’s thesis. The talk—about ten minutes’ worth—will be streamed online so you, my friends, can all point and laugh, and the video will be archived somewhere (hopefully somewhere dark and offline) after the event.

Oy vey.

In the meantime, I’m trying to figure out what the hell to say and show, and I’ve had to write a short description of my work for a (printed!!) book of my class’s thesis projects—a book that was, of course, laid out by me, who obviously had nothing better to do with my time. The following is the lofty prose I came up with, sometime between birds-tweeting-time and sunrise this morning:
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February 2, 2010

Are you a bookfuturist?

Posted in books, community, e-books, Reading, technology at 4:15 am by India

Old news but good news:

I also want Bookfuturism.com to be a kind of social network for Bookfuturists like me. There are clear markets for writing by techno­logical triumphalists (I call these guys and girls technofuturists) and doomsayers (when it comes to reading, this group can be called book­servatives). It’s easy to give a thumbs-up or thumbs-down to new technology; it’s a lot harder to try to engage with its strengths and weaknesses, to think of ways it could work better, to situate it in his­tory, to study its effect on a culture.
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January 30, 2010

What’s been gnawing at me lately

Posted in books, business, e-books, hardware, Rants, Reading, technology at 7:23 pm by India

cat chewing on an e-reader

One of the things that I find gets more difficult year after year—and I can’t tell if this is more because I’m getting older, or because I’m letting myself be pelted with information faster and harder than ever before, or because I don’t write as regularly as I used to—is synthesizing ideas. I spend hours each day gathering information, and some days it seems like for every page I read on the Web, I open or bookmark two more to read later. Yet when an occasion arises for me to state what I think about what I’ve read, I most often end up blurting out whatever my gut tells me, rather than what’s the result of deliberate analysis and consideration—because who has time to ruminate? I’ve heard the rumor, of course, that our guts know more than we think they do, but as I haven’t yet had time to read up on the subject, I can’t say to what extent or in what circumstances that’s true. My gut is whispering to me, however, that my gut is often misguided or misinformed.

For at least the last few months, as I’ve been trying to figure out what I want to do (a) for my master’s thesis and (b) to pay back my student loans after I finish the damn thing, I’ve been trying to absorb as much information as possible about e-books, e-readers, and the future of the book in general. I’ve read articles, essays, and tweets; listened to podcasts, panels, and lectures; watched videos and (sorry to have to use this word:) webinars; and talked with a lot of people. I’ve done a lot of talking at people, too, pushing and no doubt breaking the limits of courtesy with dozens of unfortunate friends, acquaintances, and strangers as I try to articulate what my gut tells me about all this partially digested input. And I’ve written about a few small things, trying to finely chew at least some corners of the subject.

Just in the last week, thanks to the Digital Book World conference and Apple’s iPad announcement, I’ve skimmed, read, watched, heard, or bookmarked thousands of chunks of content—most of them tweets, since I wasn’t present at either event but followed along through hashtags and Twitter lists—having to do with books in the digital era.

And what do I think about all of it?

I don’t know.
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December 8, 2009

“books do certain things well and digital technologies do other things well”

Posted in bookbinding, books, education, Reading, technology at 12:10 pm by India

There’s a fab article hidden behind the Chronicle of Higher Education paywall:

Some years ago, Terry Belanger found a striking way to reveal the reverence that many citizens of the digital age continue to feel for old books. It is a sentiment he finds fascinating but only rarely appropriate or useful. Belanger, who retired in September as director of an educational institute called Rare Book School but who continues to teach there, brings an old volume to class, speaks about its binding and typography, and then, still discussing the book, rips it in half and tears it into pieces. As his horrified students watch in disbelief, Belanger tosses the shards into a nearby trash can and murmurs, “Bibliography isn’t for sissies.”

The Book Mechanic: A modern sensibility binds Terry Belanger to old, rare volumes, by Andrew Witmer (Chronicle Review 41, December 6, 2009).

(Via Guy, who got it from @roncharles)
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October 21, 2009

That part of the future which is here today

Posted in books, e-books, education, Reading, technology, Tools at 12:21 am by India

page heart

As you may have gathered, if you’ve been following along, the reason I no longer post much around here is that I’m in grad school, in a program that doesn’t have anything to do with books. Not usually, anyway. It’s a two-year master’s deal, and I have to come up with a thesis sometime in the next couple of months, so I’m hoping to find some way to work books back into it. In the meantime, however, most of the connection between school and books is in the readings I do for my classes.

A few of these readings are in the form of actual bound books, most of which I’ve bought because I don’t have time to wait for them to be available at the library. Many more of the texts I have to read are stapled photocopies, just as Gutenberg printed them when I was in college six hundred years ago. But the majority of my readings this semester are online, either on good, old-fashioned Web pages or in dedicated e-book sites such as Safari or Books24x7, to which my university subscribes.

So, uh, I know it’s old news, but reading books onscreen sucks.
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January 30, 2009

How to pick better fonts

Posted in advice, books, business, Design, Reading, typography at 4:29 pm by India

golden section tattoo

How do you pick your fonts? It’s easy! Just look at type samples and find one that catches your eye. Throw that one out.

All this month, Tom Christensen of the always interesting Right Reading has been guest-blogging over at ForeWord magazine. For his final post, he offers “a simplified speed course in making books that readers will want to pick up”: “Book Design Primer.”

It’s very basic, as advertised, but he mentions a way of using the golden section that I’d never considered, so you, too, may learn something.
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November 19, 2008

The Designers Review of Books

Posted in advice, books, Design, Reading at 9:56 am by India

Designers Review of Books nameplate

Brilliant.

(Via Margaret)

August 13, 2008

The many delights of publishing

Posted in books, Editing, production, Reading, Typesetting at 3:00 pm by India

headband

Bridget points out Rachel Toor’s “A Publishing Primer” in the Chronicle of Higher Education. Excerpts:

French flaps: Extensions of the cover of a paperback that fold elegantly back inside the book and hold extra copy, in imitation of the flaps of the jacket of a hardcover book. Très chic.

. . .

Headbands: Adorable, colorful ribbons at the top and bottom of hardcover books. They are there to delight you.

. . .

Monograph: A scholarly tome on a single subject or limited aspect of a subject. Monographs were once bought primarily by libraries that used to have “standing orders” for all books on certain topics from specific presses. Those days are gone. Those days have been gone for a long time. Remember that when you are revising your dissertation.

. . .

Orphan: This refers to the first line of a paragraph left sitting by itself at the bottom of a page. “Widows” are the final line of a paragraph left alone at the top of a page. It’s the publisher who creates that kind of loneliness; it’s the publisher who should take care of it.

Some of it is specific to academic publishing, and much of it is, sadly, pretty straightforward, but you may find it of use when trying to explain certain phenomena to the uninitiated.

Photo: 2008-01-25 3 Headband by Du-Sa-Ni-Ma; some rights reserved.

August 2, 2008

Speaking of reference books . . .

Posted in Editing, Reading at 5:28 pm by India

dictionaries

I just came across the lapsed bloglet Zimmer’s Words of the Week, which appears to have been abandoned some time in April. The archives are full of good stuff, though, much of it from the wonderful Erin‘s Weird and Wonderful books. Consider, for example,

bouffage [boo-FAHG]
a filling meal. From an Old French word glossed in the OED with a quote from Cotgrave as ‘any meat that (eaten greedily) fills the mouth, and makes the cheeks to swell; cheeke-puffing meat.’ (Weird & Wonderful Word of the Week, 2/21/08)
petrichor [PET-rih-kor]
the pleasant smell that sometimes accompanies rain, especially the first rain after a period of warm dry weather. (Weird & Wonderful Word of the Week, 1/10/08)
semordnilap [sem-ORD-nih-lap]
a word that spells a different word when written backwards (“semordnilap” is “palindromes” spelled backwards). “Drawer” is a semordnilap, because backwards it spells reward. If this makes you uneasy, you might have aibohphobia, ‘fear of palindromes.’ (Weird & Wonderful Word of the Week, 4/10/08)

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August 1, 2008

Yes, there is such a thing as a stupid question

Posted in advice, Editing, humor, Reading at 6:00 pm by India

disgusted cat

Even though their CD-ROM and its tech support suck, I still love the Chicago Manual of Style Q&A:

Q. I’m editing a textbook that references a play. Should it be “Act 3,” “act three,” or “act 3”? A solution to this mystery would be greatly appreciated. I’ve looked at CMOS a hundred times for help with this issue.

A. Wow—a hundred times? If you can suggest how we can make section 8.194 more clear, we’ll try to do better in the next edition: “Words denoting parts of long poems or acts and scenes of plays are usually lowercased, neither italicized nor enclosed in quotation marks . . . act 3, scene 2.”

 

Q. At the annual meeting of our local PBK chapter, dispute on the pronunciation of “archival” arose: whether the stress falls on the first or the second syllable. Give us your wisdom. I will pass it on in the column I write weekly in a local paper about any subject that pops into my head.

A. As a style guide for writers, CMOS must resist the temptation to weigh in on an issue of pronunciation. We are editors, absorbed in our manuscripts. We can go for days without even speaking. I suggest you consult the linguists who write dictionaries for this purpose. (I’m sorry this won’t give you anything to put in your column, but thanks for your help with mine.)

 

Q. Is it “cell phone” or “cel phone”? I am working on a crash deadline, and would appreciate a quick response. Thank you so much!

A. Any writer who has deadlines should also have a dictionary. I always swear I’m not going to look up words for people, but it’s like being a mom and picking up socks—something just makes me do it. It’s “cell phone.”

Please buy a dictionary—and pick up your socks.

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