Nice. I’m guessing not many patrons have difficulty finding the library.
concept to publication
Most posts appear early weekday mornings.
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
9 The Yi jing
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
Nice. I’m guessing not many patrons have difficulty finding the library.
“Every separation is a link.” — Simone Weil
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.”
Gotta say, this is purrty well done. More like this over at Bombi(llo).
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):
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.
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?
Some 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.”
RIP Barnet Lee Rosset, Jr. (May 28, 1922–February 21, 2012), publisher of Grove Press and Evergreen Review.
Earlier I talked about creating a landing page for my book 1616. At that time I just put together a quick image map with hot spots for links. But this meant the text was an image, which meant it was neither very editable nor very googleable. In addition, I thought the middle column was a bit too thin and the type too small. So I’ve redone the page as CSS. I’ve also included a new link to an e-mail newsletter that I intend to send out every couple of months or so. You can sign up for it here.
If anything on the landing page seems amiss please let me know.
You find some funny things in your gmail spam folder sometimes. Google seems to think this e-mail is spam.
An advance copy of 1616 arrived this week. I gather only a couple of copies were air shipped from the printer (R.R. Donnelley) in China, so it was kind of my publisher, Counterpoint, to send one to me. The bulk shipment should be here in a few weeks, and the book should hit stores in the second half of February.
Counterpoint went to more expense and trouble on the production of this book than I expected, beginning with color throughout, which was a little surprising as this is a book intended for the trade and not a museum catalogue or art book per se. The book has nice chocolate-colored boards and a red and yellow headband. The 7¼ x 10 in. trim size makes it a little bigger than a standard trade book (often 5½ x 8½ or 6 x 9) but not so big as books intended mainly for the art market (which are often 9 x 12 or larger).
The front cover and spine are stamped with gold stamping (a little washed out here by my flash).
There are colored ensheets front and back. The image is a pair of Japanese screens (one shown above the other one) from the period covered in the book. Together these happen to fit the dimensions of the book perfectly, and they represent some of the best geographical knowledge of the time.
The book is well bound with sewn bindings so that it lies flat when opened.
All things considered, the art is nicely produced on 128 gsm matte paper with good opacity.
All in all, a nice piece of work, and for now attractively priced at $35.
I made this little sign for my office. I thought it might come in handy.
This marker goes with it:
As Presidents Day approaches, it is worth recalling one of our nation’s finest moments.
Remember the buzz about Google Plus when it launched? It was a nice bump while it lasted. But I think it’s safe to say it hasn’t sustained itself. My #OccupyXmas piece over at Salon.com has had 504 Facebook likes since it went up a day and a half ago. How many Google +1s has it had? 18 — a little over 3 percent as many. I’d say the ball is in Google’s court. They’d better come up with a new feature, or this game is over.
1616 received a starred review yesterday in Publishers Weekly. PW, the most influential of the big four advance review publications (the others are Kirkus Reviews, Booklist, and Library Journal) reviews about 10,000 books a year, and not too many get stars. In the book publishing industry, starred PW reviews are believed to increase media coverage and bookstore and library orders — we’ll see about that. Meanwhile, here is the review (for which I’m most grateful). The book will be published in March by Counterpoint Press.
1616: The World in Motion
At the outset, Christensen confesses his lack of academic standing to write history, given his background as a translator (Like Water for Chocolate, with Carol Christensen) and editor and director of publications at the San Francisco Asian Art Museum. Nevertheless, he has created a stunning overview of the nascent modern world through a thematic exploration of the year 1616. Christensen interweaves various narratives to describe such trends as the increasing roles of private corporations like the Dutch East India Company and of economics in world politics or the emerging voices of women as writers—such as Dorothy Leigh, whose The Mother’s Blessing had 23 printings—and occasionally powerful participants in statecraft, like Nur Jahan, who aided her husband in ruling the Mughal empire. Juxtaposing concurrent growths in witch hunting and scientific discoveries, Christensen points out that Kepler calculated the laws of planetary motion while also defending his mother, an illiterate herbalist, against witchcraft charges. Careful to include events from around the world, not just Europe and the Americas, Christensen enhances his excellent explications of backgrounds and settings with dozens of fabulous illustrations. Most readers will want an atlas to track the action in 1616’s “world in motion.” (Mar.)
Since at least the mid-twentieth century there has been a line of Galileo scholarship that has held that Galileo’s problems with the Inquisition should not be viewed as indicating a basic conflict between science and religion but instead as just problems peculiar to Galileo the man, the personality. I think the ultimate motivation for this line of argumentation is the worry of twentieth-century scientists that their work would somehow be seen as godless and communistic.
In some respects this seems the oddest angle to take on Galileo and his work. It is true he never saw himself as undermining religion. His case was more an expression of internal politics within the church itself than any kind of assault on it. Still, the church — let’s just say it — came down squarely on the wrong side of this one, and that reflects badly on it. Nonetheless, the argument continues to this day, as this review of a recent biography indicates.
I was thinking the other day about how my color preferences have changed over time, and that got me looking at a few pop psychology websites about color preferences.
The basic problem with these sites is that there are particular hues and then there are their concepts. So if a site asks you to rank your preferences by clicking on color swatches, you might say, “I like red, but I don’t like that red. Whereas if you are asked to quickly name your favorite color without thinking about it and you name red, you are most likely thinking of the concept of redness rather than of a particular hue.
Of course the notion of a favorite color is ultimately absurd. Red would be meaningless without all of the other colors to juxtapose with it. From the designer’s point of view, colors take meaning from how they are used in relation to other elements.
But as a sort of amusing parlor game it can be interesting to wonder about why one’s preferences change. As a child if you asked my favorite color I would have said blue — that’s the color I usually picked when choosing board game tokens, for example. As a young adult I would probably have given you a lecture about color philosophy and how existence precedes essence and why that is relevant to de Saussurian linguistics, but if (quite justifiably) hit over the head and forced to pick I would have said yellow. Now I find myself increasingly drawn to green, and when I go clothes shopping I often wish there were more greens offered (there are few).
I noticed that there is a great deal of disagreement on the various sites about what your color preferences “mean.” According to one representative site, a preference for blue reflects a conservative, reliable, sincere, trusting, and trustworthy personality; a preference for yellow a cheerful, fun, creative, and analytical bent; and a predilection for green a practical, down-to-earth, stable, balanced, compassionate, and calm nature. Sure.
A few years ago I read a couple of erudite books on color in art by John Gage, former head of the Department of History of Art at Cambridge University. Gage looked at color from a variety of different disciplines. I found his surveys interesting, but I find I have retained little of what I read in his books. It’s probably because I favor the wrong colors.
North American Turkey, ca. 1612, by Mansur. Victoria and Albert Museum, IM 135-1921.
In honor of Thanksgiving, here’s a painting of an American turkeycock by the great Mughal painter Mansur (from my forthcoming book 1616: The World in Motion). Mansur was the greatest Mughal painter of natural history subjects.
It was an area in which the Mughal emperor, Jahangir, was deeply interested. A world in motion brought to his court many strange and curious creatures, which he invariably directed his painters to document. In 1612, when a large number of birds and animals were brought to his court from Goa, he wrote, “As these animals appeared to me to be very strange, I … ordered that painters should draw them in the Jahangirnama [his reign journal], so that the amazement that arose from hearing of them might be increased.”
Among the birds brought from Goa was this American turkey painted by Mansur. Like Abul Hasan (who painted the cover image of my book), Mansur ranked high in Jahangir’s esteem, and the ruler gave him the title of Nadir-ul-asr, “Unique of the Age.” “In the art of drawing,” he said, Mansur “is unique in his generation.” He ranked him together with Abul Hasan, saying, “In the time of my father’s reign and my own, these two had no third.”
Jahangir was proud of such creatures in his menagerie as flying mice, tailless monkeys, zebras, yaks, cheetahs, West Asian goats, Himalayan pheasants, dodos, ducks, and partridges. He had many of the foreign animals bred in captivity. When he received a strange animal he typically would record a verbal description of it before having its likeness painted. In 1616 he was presented with an Abyssinian elephant, noting that “Its ears are larger than the elephants of this place, and its trunk and tail are longer.” His concern for accuracy and completeness of documentation led to a naturalistic approach to paintings of natural history, of which Mansur was the foremost proponent.
I received this e-mail today (some names redacted):
On this date (the Saturday after Thanksgiving) back in 2010 C and I had recently returned from Europe. We had Thanksgiving with E, but C2 didn’t call or respond to calls, and we were worried about her. I had a nasty cold. C had first felt sick on the train from Innsbruck to Zurich.
I was working on the Kepler section of 1616. How’s that book looking?
It’s looking pretty good, thank me very much!
I had forgot about futureme.org, which lets you send messages to yourself in the future. How strange to get this message from myself from almost a year ago.