Wednesday, November 28, 2012

vending books by machine - how convenient

A Book Vending Machine sounds like a novel idea. In fact, my first reaction, my first guess was that the machine was like the Book Expresso machine which prints books on demand. But this machine is definitely a vending machine.  Read the article and tell me what you think Book Vending Machines - The Fine Books Blog

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Taking the time to think and explore

I want to follow up on David M Levy's article about thinking and reading slowly and thoroughly.

Levy has written extensively on the subject including Scrolling Forward: Making Sense of Documents in the Digital Age. David M Levy, in a longer discussion of the topic gives a Google Talk (58 minutes) entitled “No Time to Think”  which expands upon this notion of being too busy, saturated, and distracted. One of the articles he brings up is Vannevar Bush's seminal work "As We May Think" Atlantic Monthly (July 1945) In this article, Bush introduces the concept of hypertext, inter connection and speeding up thought. If you haven't read the article already, take the time to work through it and be amazed.

Information Overload is one of the overarching issues that prevents our taking the time to think, contemplate, and understand, to find quiet time to work. Ann Blair also writes about information overload in her 2011 book Too Much to Know: Managing Scholarly Information before the Modern Age
This is certainly  an issue all of us deal with as we attempt to master a subject. But in order to understand a subject, you must take the time to slow down, draw connections, synthesize, and think. One way to take the time to slow down is to practice 'serial mono-tasking.' Mono-tasking is doing one thing at a time, not jumping from thing to thing, topic to topic, following those maddening links while texting, talking, and watching YouTube.  By the way, Neil Postman writes about the issue of technology and how it dominates our lives in his 1993 book Technopoly: The Surrender of Culture to Technology.

If you are fascinated by this topic, you should check out this wonderful blog post by  Posted on by Simon Buckingham Shum "Complexity, Computing, Contemplation, Learning?" (May 4, 2011) 

Take the time to slow down, relax, think, and engage with all of what you want to learn today.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Books about reading and books

There are books about books and publishing houses. Since Chappell [256-257] mentions Penguin Books, I thought you might enjoy looking at their history of the company  and a history of the company "Penguin by Design: A Cover Story 1935-2005 " by Phil Baines,,9780713998399,00.html

At the same time, you might also enjoy reading about publishers who used different forms of printing, such as microprint. In this case, Oxford University Press which funded the Oxford English Dictionary (begun in 1857). While it had been printed in many formats and versions, and on a variety of media, the microprint edition (which they call Compact) is probably the most commonly found in homes. Here's an image of the page. Those who do own it, probably purchased it new through one of the many book clubs (that's how I purchased it), or used when someone moved and had to part with the amazing etymological dictionary. Today it is available online through its website or through a library. You can read about the history of the OED here   Notice that it was first printed in fascicles (gatherings) and distributed to libraries and subscribers. Remember how we looked at imposition by examining the Italian Ephigraphical dictionary when we met in September. If you are interested in reading about the OED's first editor James Augustus Murray, check out Caught in the Web of Words: James Murray and the Oxford English Dictionary by his granddaughter K.M. Elizabeth Murray or Simon Winchester's The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary (P.S.). Both provide a fascinating view of the construction of large reference books, think Ann Blair.

I don't want to be distracted by the growth of the publishing industry or the creation of 'big books'. There are other articles and books that discuss the rise of reading, its importance in society, and proliferation in the 20th century. "Turning the Page" by Joan Acocella (New Yorker, Vol. 88 Issue 32 (Oct 15, 2012): 88-93) is a review article about women as readers throughout time. The article focuses on nineteenth century women readers, but provides an overview of the class of women who were literate in the Middle Ages and Early Modern Europe.

While you work on your exhibit about a specific book and author, think about the supporting materials that will bring your title and project to life in the eyes and minds of the viewer. You might highlight a publishers' binding or a special printing feature. 

For those of you who want to read more about publishers' bindings, view the website Publishers Bindings Online

Friday, November 09, 2012

Modern Books

While I reviewed all the videos about how books are printed in the 20th century, I stumbled upon this gorgeous video about Wood Engraving. The artist is imitating and discussing Thomas Bewick's work carving on wood blocks so the designs can be printed at the same time as the text, that is in the same print run. 
Wait until you see the beautiful images he creates. Here's the link to the YouTube video entitled "Thomas Bewick and wood-block printing | Natural History Museum"  

This second video really goes with the Encyclopaedia Britannic movie because it's a vocational film entitled "
History of Printing: Your Life Work"  . This film really describes all the various jobs of the printer. 

By now you are probably sick of  discussing printing or watching movies about the craft. So I have one more to share that looks at computers and us (how we use computers for conveying ideas)."The Machine is Us/ing Us (Final Version)"  

So what is the future of printing, publishing, and text? While the trade is more than 500 years old, computers and digitization are turning the field on its head and has been for many years now. Since we are still in the incunabula period of the web, of e-books, and of digital surrogates, we'll have to wait and see. The biggest question is will we recognize the revolution when it arrives or will be too caught up in the technology to notice. What do you think?

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Printing and Typography: a feast for the eyes

I'm going to feed your fascination with type, typography, and printing with a number of viewing and reading suggestions. 

The Superintendent of Documents at the Government Printing Office suggested "The Linotype Film: In search of the eight wonder of the world"
 or watch the video clips
 and they have a great resources page

For reading enjoyment you should check out Brenda Rickman Vantrease's The Heretic's Wife , all about printing and its suppression under Henry VIII. 

Allison suggested Stephen Coles and Tony Seddon's The Anatomy of Type: A Graphic Guide to 100 Typefaces (Harper Design, 2012). There is Simon Garfield's Just My Type: A Book About Fonts (Gotham, 2011) and Robert Bringhurst's The Elements of Typographic Style     (Hartley and Marks Publishers, 2004) coauthor of the Chappell book you are all enjoying.

If you want to read about identifying prints, check out Bamber Gascoigne's How to Identify Prints, Second Edition , an essential text for understanding how prints are made and identified. It even has close-up images for the curious. Of course you should have looked at IPI's Graphic Atlas
which allows viewers to look at prints and photographs in different types of light.

There are riches to behold when looking for information on prints and printing that I cannot do the subject justice. Check out the links on the syllabus and in the course session for more suggestions.