The Guardian: Legendary Paris bookshop Shakespeare and Company begs for help in pandemic. “One of the world’s most iconic bookshops, Shakespeare and Company, has appealed to its customers for help as it is struggling, with sales that are down almost 80% since March. The celebrated Parisian bookstore told readers on Wednesday that it was facing ‘hard times’ as the Covid-19 pandemic keeps customers away.”
NPR: ‘Dark Archives’ Explores The Use Of Human Skin In Bookbinding . “Megan Rosenbloom, a young librarian-in-training, wanders through the Mütter Museum’s collection of medical oddities. In an inconspicuous corner, she discovers a display case of leather-bound books with their covers closed — unusual for rare books. The caption explains these books are closed because their binding is more notable than their contents, and that’s because they were made from human skin. This marks the beginning of Rosenbloom’s obsession with ‘anthropodermic bibliopegy’ and the opening scene to Dark Archives: A Librarian’s Investigation into the Science and History of Books Bound in Human Skin…”
Havana Times: Ireland & Cuba: Entangled Histories. “PhDs Margaret Brehony and Nuala Finnegan, both from the Department of Spanish, Portuguese and Latin American Studies at the National University of Ireland in Cork, refer to this distinctive seal in their collection of essays Ireland and Cuba: Entangled Histories. They are written with little or no angles, nothing doctored, and therein lies the book’s greatest uniqueness. The book talks about anti-slavery movements, ethnic whitening processes, women in the Irish diaspora, the slave trade… The following is our conversation with Margaret Brehony about a slice of history that interweaves both islands.”
The Guardian: From cut-out confessions to cheese pages: browse the world’s strangest books. “Edward Brooke-Hitching grew up in a rare book shop, with a rare book dealer for a father. As the author of histories of maps The Phantom Atlas, The Golden Atlas and The Sky Atlas, he has always been ‘really fascinated by books that are down the back alleys of history’. Ten years ago, he embarked on a project to come up with the ‘ultimate library’. No first editions of Jane Austen here, though: Brooke-Hitching’s The Madman’s Library collects the most eccentric and extraordinary books from around the world.”
Inside Indiana Business: IU Awarded $500K Grant from Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. “The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation in New York is awarding a $500,000 grant to Indiana University to support the HathiTrust Research Center. IU says the grant will allow the center to develop reusable worksets and research models from the 17-million-volume HathiTrust Digital Library.”
Arizona State University: ASU collection of rare, historically significant books made accessible to the public online. “‘The Federalist Papers,’ a collection of short essays written by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison and John Jay in 1788, is one of the most well-known pro-Constitution writings. A first edition printing of this book, along with 23 other rare books and manuscripts related to significant figures, moments, ideas, debates and movements from American history, can be explored through Arizona State University’s Civic Classics Collection.”
Antiques Trade Gazette: ILAB president announces launch of missing books database following re-election. “Australian book dealer Sally Burdon said she will use her second term as [International League of Antiquarian Booksellers] president to consolidate changes and launch a new missing books register following the international book trade association’s recent election.”
Wired: Publishers Worry as Ebooks Fly off Libraries’ Virtual Shelves. “After the pandemic closed many libraries’ physical branches this spring, checkouts of ebooks are up 52 percent from the same period last year, according to OverDrive, which partners with 50,000 libraries worldwide. Hoopla, another service that connects libraries to publishers, says 439 library systems in the US and Canada have joined since March, boosting its membership by 20 percent.”
Fine Books & Collections: Peruse the Copyright Title Pages Collection at the Library of Congress. “Last month, in honor of the U.S. Copyright Act’s 150th anniversary, the Library of Congress launched an interesting new digital collection: Early Copyright Materials of the United States, 1790-1890. It might sound bland, but the result is an online database of 50,000 title pages of books published during that time that were deposited with the LOC by the publisher—and sometimes the author—prior to publication in order to fully register them per the terms of the law.”
Tohoku University: Digitized Works from Kokichi Kano Collection Now Open to General Public. “The Kano Collection was brought to Tohoku University through the efforts of Masataro Sawayanagi, the university’s first president and Kano’s close friend. It consists of about 108,000 books, most of which are Japanese and Chinese classics covering a variety of fields such as literature, philosophy, science, art and the military.” 232 works have been digitized and are now available online.
MIT News: Why social media has changed the world — and how to fix it . “In 2005, about 7 percent of American adults used social media. But by 2017, 80 percent of American adults used Facebook alone. About 3.5 billion people on the planet, out of 7.7 billion, are active social media participants. Globally, during a typical day, people post 500 million tweets, share over 10 billion pieces of Facebook content, and watch over a billion hours of YouTube video. As social media platforms have grown, though, the once-prevalent, gauzy utopian vision of online community has disappeared. Along with the benefits of easy connectivity and increased information, social media has also become a vehicle for disinformation and political attacks from beyond sovereign borders.”
Book Forum: Going Postal: A psychoanalytic reading of social media and the death drive. “The main purpose of social media is to call attention to yourself, and it was hard to think of a worse time to be doing so. It wasn’t like you were going to get a job thanks to a particularly incisive quote-tweet of President Trump; in the midst of a lockdown, your chances of getting laid based on your Instagram Story thirst traps plummeted. The already paltry rewards of posting disappeared, while the risks skyrocketed. And yet: people kept on going.” A grim – I would almost say techno-nihilist- article, but thought-provoking enough that I’m putting it here.
I found a more recent story about this Instagram archive, but it’s not a patch on this July article from Scene Arabia: Oil Paintings To Vectors: The Archive Finding The History Of Arabic Book Cover Design. “Throughout the Arab world, there is one artist whose work can be found in every home, whether or not we know it. ‘There is not one household that doesn’t have my paintings,’ the late Egyptian painter Gamal Kotb once said of his ubiquitous work that needed no canvas, no heavy frames, and no galleries to exhibit. Throughout much of the 20th century, Kotb made a name for himself creating the covers for bestselling novels by the biggest names in publishing, including Naguib Mahfouz, Ihsan Abdel Quddous, and Yusuf Idris. The artist became one of Egypt and the Arab world’s most celebrated artists, albeit in a medium that remains wildly underrated today.”
Internet Archive Blog: Judge Sets Tentative Trial Date for November 2021. “This week, a federal judge issued this scheduling order, laying out the road map that may lead to a jury trial in the copyright lawsuit brought by four of the world’s largest publishers against the Internet Archive. Judge John G. Koeltl has ordered all parties to be ready for trial by November 12, 2021. He set a deadline of December 1, 2020, to notify the court if the parties are willing to enter settlement talks with a magistrate judge.”
Washington Post: There is no good explanation for Trump’s coronavirus comments to Bob Woodward. “President Trump has made a months-long series of often bizarre comments about the coronavirus — from frequently downplaying it and saying it would just go away, to hyperbolically pitching unproven treatments for it, to ridiculing masks and then briefly embracing them before ridiculing them again, to repeatedly floating potential death tolls that would be surpassed in very short order. The question, as it often is with Trump, is whether the president truly believes his own hype and is just that disconnected from the reality of the situation, or whether he’s just saying stuff to get through a news cycle. A new book from legendary Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward suggests that it’s very much the latter.”