Books

Are Your Books Secretly Worth Millions?

Until now, the knowledge that ancient manuscripts were used to make cartonnage has presented an ethical quandary to scholars. Books and other artifacts have been destroyed in the hopes of discovering something more precious hidden inside. The stakes are even higher when it comes to Egyptian mummy masks because there are comparably few ancient manuscripts, and certain texts—Plato, the Bible, and Homer—are culturally and financially viable to Westerners. The oldest Ptolemaic fragment of the Odyssey (currently on display at the Met) was retrieved from the cartonnage of a mummy mask. Rumors that mummy masks contain the earliest fragments of the Bible has led some evangelicals to dismantle them at church-sponsored events.
From Are Your Books Secretly Worth Millions? - The Daily Beast
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New Chapter for Classic Paris Bookstore: Books Printed on Demand

Labeled, not so modestly, the “Gutenberg press of the 21st century” by its creators, the machine sits in a back corner of the shop, humming as it turns PDFs into paperbacks. Customers use tablets to select the titles for print — adding, if they want to, their own handwritten inscriptions — while sipping coffee in the light and airy storefront in the Latin Quarter of Paris. “The customers are all surprised,” said the shop’s director, Alexandre Gaudefroy. “At first, they’re a little uncomfortable with the tablets. After all, you come to a bookshop to look at books. But thanks to the machine and the tablets, the customer holds a digital library in their hands.”
From New Chapter for Classic Paris Bookstore: Books Printed on Demand - The New York Times
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The most frequently stolen books

According to research by Candice Huber, books by Bukowski and Kerouac are indeed popular targets for theft from bookstores, along with those by Hemingway, David Sedaris, and The Great Gatsby. All of the books listed are by men, and most by "manly" men. This 2009 list from the UK is slightly different: J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter books and Abbie Hoffman's Steal This Book both rank high. Libraries are a different story. According to Huber, the most frequently stolen library books are the Guinness Book of World Records, which is a favorite around our house,1 and The Bible.
From The most frequently stolen books
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Ray Bradbury: Fahrenheit 451 Misinterpreted

Bradbury, a man living in the creative and industrial center of reality TV and one-hour dramas, says it is, in fact, a story about how television destroys interest in reading literature. “Television gives you the dates of Napoleon, but not who he was,” Bradbury says, summarizing TV’s content with a single word that he spits out as an epithet: “factoids.” He says this while sitting in a room dominated by a gigantic flat-panel television broadcasting the Fox News Channel, muted, factoids crawling across the bottom of the screen. His fear in 1953 that television would kill books has, he says, been partially confirmed by television’s effect on substance in the news. The front page of that day’s L.A. Times reported on the weekend box-office receipts for the third in the Spider-Man series of movies, seeming to prove his point.
From Ray Bradbury: Fahrenheit 451 Misinterpreted | L.A. Weekly
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“Hamilton” and the Books That Hamilton Held

Astonishingly, a little inquiry proves that the library not only still keeps records of all the books that Burr and Hamilton borrowed (and, mostly, returned) but also has many of the books themselves—not merely the same titles, but the exact same books that Hamilton and Burr handled and thumbed and read and learned from. What’s more, it turns out that, by a series of benevolent bequests, the library also has a few choice and telling letters from Burr and Hamilton and even from Eliza Hamilton—“best of wives and best of women,” as Manuel’s lyrics have it—all speaking around, and eventually to, the famous and fatal affair. So, hearing this news, we quickly—as a writer would have put it in this magazine in Thurber’s day—hied ourselves over to the Society Library’s reading room, and went to work to find out more.
From “Hamilton” and the Books That Hamilton Held - The New Yorker
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Panic at the Great Books School?

This week, a small, nerdy corner of the internet was dismayed by news of an “impending coup” at St. John’s College, an institution dedicated to the study of the great books of the Western Canon. I’d like to inform them that reports of the college’s death have been greatly exaggerated.
From Panic at the Great Books School? - Washington Free Beacon
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You May Soon Binge Books Just Like You Binge Netflix

But publishing company Farrar Straus and Giroux believes the TV model can lend momentum to a book series. In a move that takes as much from Victorian novels as from limited-run Netflix series, the publisher’s FSG Originals imprint is experimenting with serialized fiction. After releasing Lian Hearn’s fantasy novel Emperor of the Eight Islands in late April, FSG Originals will offer the three remaining books in her Tale of Shikanoko tetralogy—including Autumn Princess, Dragon Child, out today—before the end of September.
From You May Soon Binge Books Just Like You Binge Netflix | WIRED
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The best nonfiction books add up to a biography of our culture

Unlike fiction, nonfiction is not a genre. It’s a headache. Compiling 100 great books of nonfiction in English takes the reader into a universe of titles unrestricted by the limitations of a canon or the strictures of critical theory. Anything goes – so long as it’s in English (once again, to keep things manageable, we have excluded translations).
From The best nonfiction books add up to a biography of our culture | Books | The Guardian
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Literary Dopplegängers and interestingness

I started this post with a few digital-humanities posturing paragraphs: if you want to read them, you'll encounter them eventually. But instead let me just get the point: here's a trite new category of analysis that wouldn't be possible without distant reading techniques that produces sometimes charmingly serendipitous results. I'll call it dopplegänger books. A dopplegänger is, for any world-historically great work of literature, a book that shares many of the same themes, subjects, and language, but is comparatively obscure, not widely read, and--most likely--of surpassingly mediocre quality.
From Sapping Attention: Literary Dopplegängers and interestingness
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