The free market isn’t really free.
But it’s not worth much.
Call me Kirk: my house is being overrun with tribbles. Well not tribbles really, but books, which amounts to much the same thing. They seem charming at first — each one is unique — but they show up in every corner and never give you a moment’s peace.
To address this we are putting up two outbuildings, each 10 x 12 feet, partway down our fairly steep south-facing hill; they are separated by a small deck. (I’ve got the roof rafters up but still need to do the doors and windows, sheathing, and roofing.) Much of the library will move out here.
Over the years I have made a lot of bookcases like the one shown above. Four of them can line each wall, so the two buildings can hold 16 bookcases on the long dimension (and still have some room left over). Each bookcase is about eight feet high and about 32 inches wide; most provide about 20 linear feet of shelf, so that’s 320 feet in all (about a tenth of a kilometer), not counting the top, which is in effect another shelf and provides pretty much additional space at the high end.
I still want to go through the library and cull many of the books. I see no virtue in hoarding. The problem is that each one requires individual review. I will do that at my leisure as I finish this up.
Below is a view of the first bookhouse in progress, looking past the garden that used to be a swimming pool.
How long should a query be? Surely it depends on the nature of the work, competing editions and the book’s market segment, your publishing history, whether you know the agent or publisher, and things like that, right?
And it seems likely that queries these days would be shorter than they used to be, since new media, along with the decline in public education, has helped to bring about an age of information snacking, in which we have largely lost the habit of extended continuous reading.
But agent Nathan Bransford says it’s simpler than that. He recently did a survey of 180 queries he received. Looking at the length distribution of the queries, and considering the mss. he called for, he concludes that the “sweet spot” for query letters is 250-350 words.
So now you know.
BTW, I did a check of the last query letter I wrote, and it came in at 325 words.
It’s not unusual to see two or more books that use the same image. After all, professional designers tend to sample from the same stock image pools. What I find interesting about these two is the way the different crops and tones seem to adjust the dynamic between the figures.
Would you be more likely to pick one up than the other?
Quote of the day — and a call to action –from Times Online:
It may appear agrestic to ask, but The Times is calling on its readers to come to the rescue of words that risk fading into caliginosity.
Dictionary compilers at Collins have decided that the word list for the forthcoming edition of its largest volume is embrangled with words so obscure that they are linguistic recrement. Such words, they say, must be exuviated abstergently to make room for modern additions that will act as a roborant for the book….
The New York Public Library’s amazing and ever-expanding digital collections includes more than two thousand book jackets from 1926 through 1947. The library routinely removed jackets from books in its collection– no doubt because they quickly would become damaged or lost — but during those years some of its librarians kept interesting examples in a collection of scrapbooks. As the library website notes, “Ranged side-by-side within years, the dust jackets provide an overview of the graphic design taste and trends of the time, while helping to reconstruct the atmosphere of the annual panoply of an era’s published works, with classic titles alongside their less enduring contemporaries”
If it [the Pledge of Allegiance] was good enough for the founding fathers, it’s good enough for me. — Sarah Palin
Pop quiz! What historical event is associated with the origin of the Pledge of Allegiance?
Answer after the break.
For bonus points, when did we start to print “In God We Trust” on our currency?
The resourceful peacay at BibliOdyssey, who seems to spend most of his waking hours rummaging through the online archives of libraries and museums searching for scans from old books, has found another gem in Arte Subtilissima, por la Qual se Enseña a Escreuir Perfectamente (The most delicate art of teaching a perfect hand), 1550, by Juan de Icíar (Juan de Yciar) with engravings by Jean de Vingles.
Iciar’s Arte Subtilissima, peacay observes, introduced the chancery script (cancelleresca corsiva) to Spain “and although it is described as a copybook, it is more intended as a manual for an engraver rather than the hand scribe.”
More illustrations from the manual here
Believe it or not, this comes up all the time, and after all these years I have yet to decide what’s right.
For example, I e-mailed a print rep earlier today to ask, “Would the 60# Natural Smooth paper be cheaper than the one I had speced?”
Should it be specked? speced? specced? spec’d? or something else?
And no, no one would say “the one I specified.”
According to the NYT today:
Shortly after becoming mayor, former city officials and Wasilla residents said, Ms. Palin approached the town librarian about the possibility of banning some books, though she never followed through and it was unclear which books or passages were in question.
Ann Kilkenny, a Democrat who said she attended every City Council meeting in Ms. Palin’s first year in office, said Ms. Palin brought up the idea of banning some books at one meeting. “They were somehow morally or socially objectionable to her,” Ms. Kilkenny said.
The librarian, Mary Ellen Emmons, pledged to “resist all efforts at censorship,” Ms. Kilkenny recalled. Ms. Palin fired Ms. Emmons shortly after taking office but changed course after residents made a strong show of support. Ms. Emmons, who left her job and Wasilla a couple of years later, declined to comment for this article.
In 1996, Ms. Palin suggested to the local paper, The Frontiersman, that the conversations about banning books were “rhetorical.”
She’s got a piercing voice, that’s for sure. Maybe you develop that to be heard over five children during howling blizzards.
But what about her accent? There is a discussion going on over at Mr. Verb. Apparently native Alaskans don’t hear characteristic Alaskan cadences in it. Some people hear Chicago and the upper Midwest, but how would that get there? Others note that she was born in Idaho, and speculate that she may have grown up with others sharing that dialect.
I suppose if she spoke in a mountain west dialect it could help the ticket in Western states, leaving everything else aside.
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