concept to publication

Month: March 2009

Design geekiness

Admit it designers, you’re a bunch of playbabies. Witness:

Rethinking twitter

follow me on twitter

In recent weeks I’ve gradually been turning twitter into something somewhat useful. To do so I had to undo my foolish initial approach to it.

Friday roundup

“Honour commercio’s energy yet aid the linkless proud, the plurable with everybody.” — Finnegans Wake

Latest inbound links

It’s urgent!

Via Craigslist:



A ruined life?

I received this unusual e-mail recently (subject line: “you ruined my life, sorta / an offer for karmic balancing”). I have edited it somewhat to conceal the identity of the author. I have no memory of the incident the writer describes. I will say that I think I have generally been courteous in rejecting manuscripts. I’m sure there were exceptions.

Hello, I think you are someone I met years ago, and you had a big (negative) impact on my life. I’m writing today to say hi, and to offer you a chance at karmic balancing.

Friday roundup

“If Folly link with Elegance no man knows which is which.” – William Butler Yeats


Shakespeare, again

Just a week ago a portrait of Shakespeare emerged that was supposedly painted by a contemporary. Now a fellow named John Casson (“an independent researcher and psychotherapist”) who “spent three years studying writings thought to be connected to Shakespeare” (wow! three years!), claims to have discovered six “new” works by Shakespeare.

Considering that there has been a sizeable full-time Shakespeare industry churning away in academia for at least a hundred years, I think this claim must be taken with many grains of salt until verified. It would be interesting to see the works though. English writing has been all downhill since Shakespeare.


You’ve read these books. Sure you have.

According to a survey conducted by Spread the Word, a UK book advocacy group, two-thirds of respondents admitting lying about having read certain books. Which books do people most often lie about having read? Following are the ten top claimed-to-have-read titles. Orwell is the runaway winner — why?

1. 1984 by George Orwell (42%)
2. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy (31%)
3. Ulysses by James Joyce (25%)
4. The Bible (24%)
5. Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert (16%)
6. A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking (15%)
7. Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie (14%)
8. In Remembrance of Things Past by Marcel Proust (9%)
9. Dreams from My Father by Barack Obama (6%)
10. The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins (6%)

I’ve read all but 7, 9, and 10 (no. 2 in translation).

The mysterious thing about this list is why anyone would lie about having read Richard Dawkins. It must be a UK thing.

The picks of this litter, BTW, are 3, 4, 5, and 8.


Rapping typeheads

A fellow called “the magic of chutney” sure knows how to dominate a board. Saying “Some of you is so down on fonts..I’m gonna get my man Johannes to break it down for ya,” he laid down a bunch of images like the one below. Great stuff (even if Gutenberg didn’t really invent moveable type).

rapping typographers

Friday roundup

“Every separation is a link.” — Simone Weil

Latest inbound links


Mutanabbi Street reading

make books not war

There will be a reading from the Mutanabbi Street anthology that Red Hen Press recently published, tomorrow, March 11, at 7:30 at Overland Books in San Francisco. The book (which I haven’t seen yet) collects writing that commemorates the bombing of Baghdad’s booksellers’ row and celebrates freedom of expression. I have an essay in the anthology. Tomorrow’s reading, however, will be entirely of works by the Iraqi authors who are in the book, and I will be the proxy reader for “Escape from al-Mutanabbi Street” by Muhammad al-Hamrani.


Broadside “Make Books Not War” by Sarah Bodman. Text translated into Arabic by Nejat Chalabi and handwritten by Nadia Chalabi. More info here.


Shakespeare’s likeness

Is this really a contemporary’s portrait of Shakespeare?



The Best of Contemporary Mexican Fiction

the best of contemporary mexican fictionRight Reading received this e-mail from Olivia Sears, president of the Center for the Art of Translation.

I hope you are all enjoying The Best of Contemporary Mexican Fiction. I wanted to send along some of the press the book has received. Martin Riker at Dalkey Archive Press has done a tremendous job of promoting the book.

Should publishing be open?

Tim O’Reilly makes some points in its favor.


Another independent publishing company bites the dust

10 speed soldTen Speed Press, a mainstay of Bay Area Book Publishing for nearly forty years, has been sold to Random House, which means it is now part of the Germany-based megacorporation Bertelsmann AG, which is the world’s single largest owner of book publishing companies. This continues the long trend of independents getting swallowed by international entertainment conglomerates.

Ten Speed’s most popular titles include What Color Is Your Parachute and The Moosewood Cookbook. According to a report in the NYT, Ten Speed will retain its editorial staff — Phil Wood will be publisher emeritus — but there will be layoffs in the warehousing and distribution operations. If past experience with such sales is any predictor, for a while the company’s editorial program may seem little changed, but sooner or later it will lose its distinctive character.

Phil Wood says, “I am confident Ten Speed Press, the Company I founded and have owned for almost four decades, will thrive under Random House, whose highly professional people are committed to, and fully understand, publishing.”


Public service announcement

Before “upgrading” your Netflix instant-watch player, think about it.


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