Right-reading (adj): Having the proper orientation (used in printing)

Today is Thursday, November 26, 2015 8:42 am (U.S. central time).

“Most writers have totally unrealistic concepts of how publishing works.”
-- Jim Harrison


Tom Christensen
("xensen") . tom [at] rightreading.com

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Some Popular Pages

1 How to Get a Book Published
2 Persian Ceramics
3 Chinese Jade
4 Creative barcodes from Japan
5 Taoism and the Arts of China
6 The digital divide
7 New graphic design 8 Gutenberg and Asia
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10 Glossary of Book Publishing Terms
11 Books for Writers
12 Famous Last Words
13 On Julio Cortazar
14 On Lewis Caroll's Sylvie and Bruno
15 Daybook: September
16 The Making of Masters of Bamboo

Some popular blog posts, 2006-2008

Pulp nonfiction

pulp-style cover showing warrior for print


Thanks to the Pulp-O-Mizer.

9 March">Friday roundup : Links for 9 March

“Every separation is a link.” — Simone Weil

Olympus E-Pl2


This photo of a jade plant in front of the fireplace was taken with my new camera, an Olympus E-PL2. This is a mirrorless camera in the micro four thirds format (so called for the 1.33 in. size of the sensor, I think). The best thing about the fairly new mirrorless cameras is that they employ near-DSL-size sensors in point-and-short-sized bodies (although eqipped with anything other than a pancake wide angle lens they are not really pocket sized). Within the mirrorless category, the u4/3 system is nice because some major camera manufacturers (notably Olympus and Panasonic) got together and agreed on specifications for the system. This means that within the u4/3 system you can buy a camera body from one company and make use of a lens from another company. The E-PL2 is a couple of years old, but it was offered at a great price, and the lenses are the same as on the current models (such as the OM-D-EM5, which is great but lists for $1300 on Amazon).

For more examples, I have some garden photos like this one posted at Frisco Vista.

apricot blossoms - P3080274

And low-light examples like this one from the Asian Art Museum’s Terracotta Warriors show at 7Junipers.

terracotta warrior (kneeling archer)

Links for Friday, February 22

February 22: After nine months, Friday Roundup returns.

“Every separation is a link.” — Simone Weil

“Write in recollection and amazement for yourself.” — Jack Kerouac
(resurrecting a few old posts, because it’s been so long)

Stand by me

While we’re on the subject of music, here’s a fine chorus of street musicians from around the world. Pretty cool.

Who knows the way? Johnny Cash!

Paris under water

This photo is one of a series of dark, atmospheric photos by Arnaud Labgraph showing the Seine at high water.

Photography is one of the diverse interests of this mainly book publishing-related blog, but I have been largely inactive for a while as I have been at work on nonvirtual projects. I hope to get back to more regular blogging now — we shall see — and what better way than with a post drawn from my colleague Jason Jose’s Faith Is Torment blog?

Tom Kristensen

tom kristensen, haervaerk (havoc)

Maybonne returned recently from a trip to Europe, which included a swing through northern Germany and Denmark. While there she took a few pictures of Christensen-related books and signage, including this shelf featuring the best-known title of Tom Kristensen (1893-1974).

I’ve long had some interest in Kristensen, and not just because of the similarity of our names. I first encountered him in Richard Ellman’s biography of James Joyce. (Apparently Ellman got some of his facts wrong about Joyce and Kristensen, who did a review of the bio.) Kristensen’s book Haervaerk (“Havoc,” shown in the photo) was influenced by Joyce and introduced some of his literary strategies to Denmark. The two men met, and Joyce was interested in Kristensen’s work, which centered around the city of Copenhagen much as Joyce’s centered around Dublin. Haervaerk, which was published in 1930 traces a journalist’s intentional journey of self-ruination.  The book was translated into English by Carl Malmberg as Havoc and published by the University of Wisconsin Press.

There is a good brief appreciation of Haervaerk by Marie (who has a master’s degree in Comparative Literature and Theatre Studies, and is employed as a dramaturge at a chamber opera house in Copenhagen) at the blog “At the Lighthouse.”



Password strength

“Through twenty years of effort, we’ve successfully trained everyone to use passwords that are hard for humans to remember, but easy for computers to guess.”

how to make strong passwords using phrases
Click image to view full size at xkcd site.

How well do you see color?

color challenge

I proof color professionally in my job as a museum publications specialist, and I feel like I’m pretty good at it. So I was pleased to get the confirmation of a perfect score in this interesting color test. Give it a try!


Uncle Drew

I know it’s Pepsi, but Uncle Drew is still awesome.

Friday Roundup: Links for May 11

“Every separation is a link.” — Simone Weil

Lots of questions today:

Duly quoted (Mother’s Day weekend edition):

  • “Whatever else is unsure in this stinking dunghill of a world a mother’s love is not.”  — James Joyce
  • “Mothers are all slightly insane.” — J.D. Salinger
  • “I believe that always, or almost always, in all childhoods and in all the lives that follow them, the mother represents madness. Our mothers always remain the strangest, craziest people we’ve ever met.” — Marguerite Duras
  • “David Stern should get with the mothers of the NBA and let the moms decide what the dress code should be. I asked my mother if I could wear a chain, and she told me yeah.” — Shaquille O’Neal

Bravo, Walters!

llama, chamay culture, earthenware, 1000-1470

llama, chamay culture, earthenware, 1000-1470

The Walters Art Museum has donated some 19,000 images of works from their collections to Wikimedia. They are among the museums — another is the Getty — who reject the spurious claim of some institutions that they can control the copyright on works that are hundreds of years old. In 2006 they removed admission fees. In 2011 they made 20,000 images available on their website through a Creative Commons license. I endorse this attitude, which promotes the free exchange of ideas and furthers the institution’s educational mission in a dramatic and effective way.


via artdaily.org

Kansas City Public Library

Kansas City Public Library

Nice. I’m guessing not many patrons have difficulty finding the library.


(via viahouse.com)


Friday roundup: links for May 4

“Every separation is a link.” — Simone Weil

Duly Quoted

  • “I think many men are much more familiar with the failed policies than a lot of other people, as well as the general public.”
    — Herman Cain, explaining the political gender gap

Font Shop plug-in

The Font Shop plug-in allows trying before buying. According to the FS webpage, “The FontShop Plugin Beta allows designers and other type enthusiasts to try out FontShop fonts directly inside Adobe® Photoshop® CS5 and CS5.5. You can preview any of the over 150,000 FontShop fonts for free, in the context of your own artwork. This is a great new way to find the perfect typographic fit for your project.”

Cats as typefaces

cats as fonts

Gotta say, this is purrty well done. More like this over at Bombi(llo).

A manuscript of geometric solids

geometric solid from Codex Guelf 74. 1, via Bibliodyssey

This curious image, shamelessly copied from Peacay’s excellent Bibliodyssey, is one of several similar images from a 36-page manuscript said to date from the sixteenth century. The provenance and attribution of this work are a bit mysterious. There was great interest in regular geometric solids during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, as it was thought that in them was hidden God’s secret design for the universe. Such thinking derived from the ancient lineage of Pythagoreanism.

One researcher who explored this direction in depth, as described in my 1616: The World in Motion, was Johannes Kepler, who in the early seventeenth century produced this somewhat similar diagram of a “cosmic cup” in which all of the regular solids are embedded together (Kepler persuaded the eastern Habsburg emperor Rudolf to commission royal metal workers to construct such a cup, though the efforts came to nothing):

kepler: planetary solids


The image reproduced at Bibliodyssey is curious for its lack of context and its early date. As a philosophical/mathematical model it is much less rigorous than Kepler’s version and seems as much the result of private symbolism as of mathematics. Some of the images from the manuscript have something of the quality of origami, which is certainly out of the mainstream even of esoterica, so to speak. I would hazard the guess that the author of this work might have been a forerunner of Rosicrucianism (notice the three-dimensional cross in the center of the image, which has some of the vocabulary of alchemy). If I can learn more about the manuscript I will share what I find out.

Different covers for books by male and female writers?


Meg Wolitzer raised the issue at the New York Times. Emily Temple at Flavorwire followed up with a sampling of book covers. These authors focus on supposed typographical differences between books by male and female authors. From the Flavorwire sample it looks to me like color and tone might be at least as significant. Is this just random? What do you think?


1616 review recap

scribe by rizi-yi-abbasiSome highlights (well, hey, the topic interests me):

Cleveland Plain Dealer (March 29, 2012)
“Thomas Christensen’s 1616 is a delight, an adventure, a reading and visual treat of the first order. Once you hold it in your hands, and the sumptuous, well-chosen illustrations fall open, its $35 pricetag will seem like a bargain.”

Maclean’s Magazine
 (Canada; April 2, 2012 issue)
” Where Christensen shines … is in his tales of individuals incongruently ricocheting around this newly opened world.”

East Bay Express
 (March 21, 2012)
” A swashbuckling, stargazing, witchcrafty, ’round-the-world-in-three-hundred-plus-pages historical adventure disguised as an art book, 1616: The World in Motion is simply dazzling.”

San Jose Mercury News (March 3, 2012)
“This thoughtful, beautifully illustrated book examines the key events in art, science, war and politics, as well as mass migrations, new modes of trade and women’s emerging roles.

ForeWord Magazine (Spring 2012 issue)
A “fresh, deeply researched and thoughtfully composed window back in time.”

Publishers Weekly (starred review, December 12, 2011; also named one of PW‘s top ten history books for the season)
“A stunning overview of the nascent modern world through a thematic exploration of the year 1616.”

Kirkus Reviews (November 15, 2011)
” Well-researched and entertaining … a unique reading experience.”