Suspend Your Disbelief

Posts Tagged ‘print books’

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Why old books smell so good

You know how you go into a rare books library, or maybe an old used bookstore, and you step between the shelves and take a deep breath and there it is: that incredible old-book smell. To me, it always smells like leather and caramel and dust and sunlight, all blended together. Turns out, there’s a scientific answer (as well as a teleoogical one) for just why old books smell so damn good: This sign might be on to something. Smell is the scent most strongly tied to memory, and in my dreams (the real, I’m-asleep ones) I’m often combing the […]


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Beyond "Books by the Foot"… but to what?

I adore this video of books arranging themselves by color. So why do I cringe when I read this? For the spa in Philippe Starck’s Icon Brickell, the icy glass condo tower in Miami, [designer Thatcher Wine] was asked to wrap 1,500 books in blank white paper, without titles, to provide a “textural accent” to the space. He chose mass-market hardcovers that flood the used book outlets — titles by John Grisham and Danielle Steel, or biographies of Michael Jackson, he said — because they are cheap, clean and a nice, generous size. For another Starck project, in Dallas, Mr. […]


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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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Five Chapters to publish print books

Most of the news lately is about print publishers moving to electronic publishing. So it’s refreshing to hear about the opposite: short story website Five Chapters will soon begin publishing print books. In January 2011, Five Chapters will publish three short story collections by Five Chapters alums: Nobody Ever Gets Lost by Jess Row, Other People We Married by Emma Straub, and “an anthology of stories which have been published on FC over the last four years.” Five Chapters founder David Daley shared the news with Mediabistro’s Morning Media Menu. Click here to listen to the interview with Daley, and […]


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If you were reading this on paper, you'd be finished by now.

Perhaps our recent posts on e-books have you jonesing for an iPad or a Kindle. Or maybe they’ve made you nostalgic for a good old print hardback. Either way, here’s something else to consider: reading on paper is faster than reading on a screen. The Nielsen Norman group (no, that Nielsen) found that reading in electronic format was up to 10.7% slower than reading a paper book. Reports Macworld: Nielsen’s findings were based on the performance of 24 users who “like reading and frequently read books.” The subjects each read different short stories by Ernest Hemingway on all four platforms, […]


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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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Love Letter to the Deckle Edge

If all the recent talk about the iPad and the Amazon/Macmillan ebook pricing catfight has you longing for a simpler time, look no further than this ode to the deckle edge on The Millions: Opening a book can already feel like opening a gift. Armed with a knife and freeing the pages and the story hidden beneath the folds, it becomes something more, “a penetration of its secrets” and an act of discovery, shot through with a suggestion of violence and danger or of the painful gestation of the words themselves. This act of cutting open pages to read a […]




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