Suspend Your Disbelief

Posts Tagged ‘nostalgia’

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Libraries, libraries, everywhere (and we mean everywhere)

Do you have a cell phone? Of course you do.  Everyone does.  So what will become of all those public pay phone booths that no one needs anymore? Columbia architecture grad John Locke has an idea: turn them into public bookshelves.  Reports The Atlantic Cities: [I]n the past few months, the Columbia architecture grad has slipped around Manhattan with a sack of books and custom-made shelves, converting old pay phones into pop-up libraries. The concept, sponsored by Locke’s imaginary Department of Urban Betterment, is that New Yorkers will pick up unfamiliar titles while running their errands and then, perhaps, replace […]


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An old dog reads ebooks

In my early 30s, I don’t think of myself as old very often. Except sometimes when I’m on the train or at a park and I see everyone (everyone!) who looks to be about my age or younger, and sometimes people a bit older than me, too, texting like the wind. I’m a super slow texter. Even with my fancy new smart phone, I don’t see myself getting faster any time soon. I guess texting is okay, but I still like to actually talk to people most of the time Am I just not willing to work at it? Or […]


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eBooks? Not in this crib.

News flash: eBooks are growing more popular by the year–wait, make that the minute. But there’s one market where paper books are still king: babies. The New York Times reports that even eBook-reading parents prefer paper books for their tots. This is the case even with parents who themselves are die-hard downloaders of books onto Kindles, iPads, laptops and phones. They freely acknowledge their digital double standard, saying they want their children to be surrounded by print books, to experience turning physical pages as they learn about shapes, colors and animals. Parents also say they like cuddling up with their […]


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How to sign an e-reader

Aside from copyright and industry-related questions (will they make pirating too easy? Will they kill/save publishing?) e-readers have sparked one other conundrum. If you meet the author, what do you ask them to sign? Some readers have asked the authors to autograph the e-reader itself—David Sedaris, for instance, inscribed “This bespells doom” on one. Those who’d like more than one author’s signature, however, now have a new option. Florida resident T. J. Waters has developed a program, Autography, that allows authors to sign an ebook: “Basically, what you do is pull up a copy of your book as the author, […]


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At the end of the bookshelf?

If the e-reader causes the “end of books,” will it also be the end of bookshelves? Maybe not. The Minneapolis Star Tribune reports on how people use their bookshelves today: Michael Jones also loves books. But his loft condo in Minneapolis doesn’t have space for a traditional library. He still buys books but downloads a lot of his lighter reading material on his Kindle. Recently he added a custom built-in bookshelf to his living room — mainly to display his art collection. “I was running out of wall space,” he said. […] His new built-in bookcase, which spans most of […]


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Marginalia and the e-reader

Partway through his essay on marginalia, Sam Anderson tells the story of lending a friend his copy of Infinite Jest—complete with his own annotations—then borrowing it back partway through: The fresh one, she told me afterward, felt a little lonely by comparison: she missed the meta-conversation running in the margins, the sense of another consciousness co-filtering D.F.W.’s words, the footnotes to the footnotes to the footnotes to the footnotes. On our wedding day, my husband received a copy of Infinite Jest from his childhood friend as a wedding gift, complete with dogeared pages and scrawled marginal notes. “This book,” said […]


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Doodles of Famous Authors

Perhaps it’s pure nostalgia, but here on the blog we’ve been keeping a running list of things we lose when a book moves from physical object to digital file: the dedications and notes on the flyleaf, the deckle edges, careful typesetting, artistic covers. Here’s something else to add to the loss column: marginal doodles. Flavorwire has compiled a gallery of the idle squiggles of famous writers, offering an amusing and fascinating glimpse into the authors’ minds. For instance, Sylvia Plath depicted a nightmare of being chased by a hot dog and a marshmallow (this just cries out for Freudian interpretation), […]


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Safely Scared

Over lunch with a friend a few weeks back, we discussed the qualities of enduring children’s literature. Almost simultaneously, we both lit upon the fairly common idea that children really, truly love to be frightened – not so different from their more mature counterparts. “Safely scared,” was how he put it, and I couldn’t agree more. December always puts me in mind of reading as a child, the early-dark nights, the cold driving us inside, reading Roald Dahl or Madeleine L’Engle or the Grimm brothers by flashlight. Traditional fairy tales are often far darker than our novelists dare – the […]


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When we go digital, what happens to the flyleaf?

We’ve talked previously about what may happen to book covers as e-books become more prevalent. But the VQR blog has a nice post about another vanishing aspect of paper books: marginal notes, flyleaf dedications, and physical insertions. Says blogger Megan Alix Fishmann, who works in a used bookstore: Each receipt, torn article, and note is a clue leading me to learn just a bit more about the book’s previous owner. In 125 Cookies to Bake, Nibble & Savor, in the midst of a recipe for peanut butter cookies, I found a woman’s prescription for 15mg of Terazepam, a strong sleeping […]




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