Right Reading

concept to publication

Month: March 2011

Author photo

thomas christensen author photo

My author questionnaire and author photo for 1616: The World in Motion are due this week to Counterpoint Press. My daughter Ellen, who is a brilliant photographer, among other things, took this photo from the roof of her apartment overlooking Lake Merritt in Oakland. It was raining lightly at the time, and later that day ice would fall from the sky.

In Tom’s Glossary of Book Publishing Terms the author photo is defined as “Pictorial fiction. Authors always choose photos that emphasize that quality in which they feel most deficient.” So what does this say about me? I dunno — but I will say, as a guy who has been cutting his own hair for years, that I don’t think the hair looks too bad.

Marilyn Monroe Reading Ulysses

This photo of Marilyn reading Ulysses was taken on Long Island by Eve Arnold in 1954. Marylin was smart, and she liked to read. Here she seems to be at the end of the book, which concludes with these words from Molly’s soliloquoy:

I was a Flower of the mountain yes when I put the rose in my hair like the Andalusian girls used or shall I wear a red yes and how he kissed me under the Moorish wall and I thought well as well him as another and then I asked him with my eyes to ask again yes and then he asked me would I yes to say yes my mountain flower and first I put my arms around him yes and drew him down to me so he could feel my breasts all perfume yes and his heart was going like mad and yes I said yes I will Yes.

In Solitary Pleasures, a book in which women writers select favourite pictures of women reading, Jeanette Winterson writes of this photo:

This is so sexy, precisely because it’s Marilyn reading James Joyce’s Ulysses. She doesn’t have to pose, we don’t even need to see her face, what comes off the photo is absolute concentration, and nothing is sexier than absolute concentration. There she is, the goddess, not needing to please her audience or her man, just living inside the book. The vulnerability is there, but also something we don’t often see in the blonde bombshell; a sense of belonging to herself. It’s not some playboy combination of brains and boobs that is so perfect about this picture; it is that reading is always a private act, is intimate, is lover’s talk, is a place of whispers and sighs, unregulated and usually unobserved. We are the voyeurs, it’s true, but what we’re spying on is not a moment of body, but a moment of mind. For once, we’re not being asked to look at Marilyn, we’re being given a chance to look inside her.

HarperCollins vs the South Sioux City, Nebraska, Public Library

This interesting standoff between Rupert Murdock’s big publishing conglomerate and a little public library could be a bellwether for future digital book disputes. The SSC Library is boycotting HarperCollins. It is part of a consortium of 60 Nebraska libraries that purchase e-books for library patrons. Until recently the libraries could allow an unlimited number of patrons to check out these materials (just as they do with printed books). But HC changed the terms of the library purchases, now allowing a maximum of 25 check-outs — less than half of one check-out per library. HC says unlimited check-outs could hurt its e-book business, library director David Mixdorf says the new policy “hits on us pretty hard.” It will be interesting to see how this shakes out.

One benefit: patrons may be reading better books during the boycot.

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LINK: KTIV.com

Image via El Bibliomata’s photostream.


Another weird writing job, via Craigslist

Ego posters now hire people to write their Wikipedia bios?

Wikipedia Writer (sausalito)

“We need an experienced Wikipedia writer to help us get a bio published. Writer will be asked to format the content provided to conform to wikipedia guidelines. Pages must be submitted and appear in main wiki without deletion. We prefer someone who has an active account and can provide examples of their previous article submissions that were successfully posted to Wiki.”

Rant: The sorry state of bibliographic records

These days I’m using Zotero to keep track of my references (and what a pain it was transferring references from BibMe, which doesn’t support the standard BibTex format). I’ll make a post about Zotero when I get a chance. Right now I just want to rant about what a crappy job librarians are doing these days with bibliographic information. With Zotero I can enter an ISBN and download book information, but for many books I go to WorldCat, which gathers records from a variety of libraries, and Zotero can also extract those records. But, either way, I nearly always have to edit the result. It seems whoever is entering the records in the library databases can’t tell a subtitle from a publisher, or doesn’t know how to format publisher names, or gets mixed up about dates and authors and editors and other elements. Working with WorldCat this way has been an eye opener about librarians’ lazy or inept data entry. Shouldn’t they be trained to do these things correctly?

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