Thursday 28 January 2010

iPad, iBooks and ePub

Yep, I am reading Twitter, bleary-eyed (its 6AM in Melbourne), with a headache, to find out about the iPad and how it will handle text.

Well, the good news for those wanting a Kindle-killer is that the iPad has an application—and Apple have created a Store—called iBooks and the etexts sold on the iBook store will use ePub, an open source standard for ebooks. (ePub is a free and open e-book standard, by the International Digital Publishing Forum. It supersedes the Open eBook standard. Files have the extension ".epub"; see Wikipedia).

Apple have also already signed up five huge publishers—Hachette, HarperCollins, Macmillan, Penguin, Simon & Schuster—who will sell content on the iBook store.

As for the iPad, well it is pretty and works just like the iPhone, which means that flipping pages, zooming in (to text, to a table of contents etc), is easy. And it has a colour screen, handles video etc. But, as the New York Times Blog comments:

The gadget itself is transparent, a window into software. There is really only a single mechanical button on the device, the “on” button. The rest is all fingers interacting directly with software.

And, on Apple's eText-reader competition, they note

Needless to say, Apple and Amazon are on a collision course. Media (books, music, video) constitute half of Amazon’s revenues, and it won’t go down without a fight.

Apple uses the ePub format, the most popular open book format in the world. It’s unclear what digital rights management they are using and whether these books will be transferable to other devices that support ePub, like the Barnes & Noble and Sony e-readers.

Oh, and the various iPad models will cost between US$499 and 829 (A$560 and 930) and will be sold unlocked. Which means there isn't much reason to buy a Kindle DX. As one Tweet summarised it:

Kindle DX 9.7 inch black and white screen and one application $489. iPad. 9.7 inch super color IPS screen, thousands of applications $499.

It will be interesting to see what develops.

Monday 18 January 2010

Get a Job! Get a Haircut!

Yep, I actually had someone say that to me once. It was while I was working on my PhD. I was in Sydney, waiting for my sister on the steps of the War Memorial in Hyde Park. The War Memorial guard will be pleased to know I have — somewhat belatedly — taken his advice. In 2005 I got my hair cut, and today I accepted a lectureship at Monash. You can't rush these things.

Wednesday 13 January 2010

Hark, The Kindle Choir!

Monday's Age contains an article by Helen Elliott, "Kindle: A World of Literature in your Hand" (here), in which she spruiks Amazon's Kindle. As Staul62 of Melbourne comments:

Another day, another glowing Kindle 'review'. How big is the cheque from Amazon? As Bemused rightly points out, there are many e-readers out there, some produced by Australian companies, some that didn't lock us out for years and even perhaps some that don't have restrictive digital rights management and the right to come in and delete your books at will.

(I'd add that some even have colour screens, or will, according to some iSlate rumours.)

And if I read another I-can-have-a-library-in-my-handbag-what-do-I-need-all-my-old-books-for-anymore article I'll yawn myself to death. As for this, from Ms Elliott:

I don't have sentimentality for my books. Books are about ideas and what was in them is now in my head.

What a lot of tosh. Books may be "about" ideas—they may help communicate ideas—but they are physical objects and can only get in your head if they are launched into it with a canon!

And to understand and appreciate the physicality of books is not mere sentimentality, it is a recognition that "the medium is the message" as Marshall McLuhan said in 1964!

I have a very large library of etexts (because etexts are very useful) and will probably get a reader in the near future (because they are quite convenient), but don't expect to see a pile of "Free Books" outside my office any time soon.

Because, contrary to the claims of Amazon and members of the Kindle-spruiking-choir such as Helen Elliott, an etext is not a substitute for a book any more than an electronic version of a journal is a replacement of a journal (as I have explained before).

Tuesday 12 January 2010

PhD Comics by Jorge Cham

Any student and every academic who has not looked at Piled Higher & Deeper: Life (or the lack thereof) in Academia, a comic strip by Jorge Cham, should do so.

Monday 11 January 2010

Book Porn

Someone who knows my weakness sent me a link to this Flikr set called "Diary of a Book Lover."

Like they said, it has "lots of yummy images of old books." Over two hundred of them in fact.

Above and below are a few samples. Enjoy!

Sunday 10 January 2010

Haywood Bibliography Note 5

Exactly three years ago today I received my copy of the Poems and Translations of Mrs Edward Caryl Fleetwood. This copy is particularly interesting because it was published in 1879 by the recently-bereaved Edward Caryl Fleetwood as a tribute to his wife.

The book contains two gift inscriptions from Mr Fleetwood and an appendix containing his two-page account of the "Sad Accident … and Sudden Death" of "Bessie" (aka Elizabeth Fleetwood née Heywood aka Eliza Heywood).

Title-page inscription:

Mrs. Dalby, Windsor Cottage
from her cousin
  E. Caryl Fleetwood
    1 Berkeley Place,
       31 Dec., 1879.

* * * * *

As I explain under Ca.9 of my Bibliography the poetic works of Eliza Heywood of Cheltenham (15 April 1808–18 November 1879; married Edward Caryl Fleetwood 15 April 1852) are regularly, though absurdly, attributed to Eliza Haywood.

Copies of Ca.9.1 Ermangrade on OCLC WorldCat appear under "Eliza Haywood" (though those in the National Union Catalog do not) and the Univerity of Pennsylvaia copy, previously correctly catalogued has been subsequently recatalogued under Haywood.

The University of South Australia copy of Ca.9.2 Poems and Translations is catalogued under Haywood, as is the Newberry Library copy, though both are inscribed by the author.

My Bibliography doesn't include the 1879 edition of the Poems and Translations/Autumn Leaves/Autumnal Leaves (Ca.9.3) and much of the information included in it by Edward Fleetwood was news to me.

Given how uncommon this book is—it seems that only one hundred and fifty copies were printed—I thought it might be worth while transcribing some of the text and publishing some photographs of it. I have also attached a pdf of the revised entry on my Haywood Bibliography, Addenda and Corrigenda page.

Printed gift plate:

[Mrs. Dalby
  Windsor Cottage]
  Accept this unpretending Volume of the last poems and Translations of my dearly beloved and lamented wife "Bessie."
Mention is made at the end of it, of the sad accident which resulted in her death. In offering this small memento, her sorrowing husband hopes, whom they knew so well in life, will in her death continue to live in the recollection of her many Friends,

  [E. Caryl Fleetwood]
    1 Berkeley Place,
      31st Dec., 1879.

"Sad Accident (16th) to, and Sudden Death (18th) of Bessie, November, 1879."


  On the afternoon of 22nd November, 1879, at No. 1, Berkeley Place, Cheltenham, an inquest was held before E. W. Coren, Esq., coroner for the district, on the body of Mrs Elizabeth Fleetwood, (Bessie) wife of E. Caryl Fleetwood, Esq., residing at above address.—Mr. Fleetwood said: That on Sunday last, 16th Nov., inst., having just returned home from a visit to a friend Mrs. Willett Adye, saying, "Edward, see if that will do, please." He took the letter and read it, and she then turned round one of the projections which support te arch in the centre of the dining room, to place something on a shelf. She was talking to him at the time, and on her suddenly returning round the the projection towards him she quickly tripped over the parcels which were lying on the floor close to the foot of the projection, and fell violently on her left temple. He was close to her, and her maid was also present having just placed luncheon on the table, and they in a moment raised her up and placed her in a recumbent position on the sofa, deceased saying, "O! I shall never recover." He ran for Dr. Gooding who at once returned with him. The parcels had been sent the previous day from the printers, and contained 150 copies of her recent poems and translations from French, German, and Italian authors, upon which he had devoted with her many months. He and she had intended the following week to arrange for having them bound, and she anticipated much pleasure in the distribution of them among intimate friends. On his returning with the doctor they found her sitting on an easy chair, her two servants being with her. She appeared to be partially unconscious, and was uttering a few incoherent expressions. She was then placed in a recumbent position on the sofa, where she remained for some hours, he and the servants watching and attending her until 9 o'clock, when he with their aid carried her to bed.
  She did not entirely recover consciousness. An experienced nurse was at once called in. Dr. Goodling continued to attend her, and on Monday and Tuesday held consultations with Dr. Hawkins.
  He and the nurse sat up with her and everything was done which could be done for her until her death at 5p.m. on Tuesday, 18th November, 1879/
  The coronor not thinking it necessary to take the evidence of the maid and doctor (who were in attendance) the Jury returned a verdict of "Accidental Death."
Note: Her remains were interred in the Cemetery, Cheltenham, on 22nd November, 1879, the Rev. C. Tidd Pratt, A.M., Vicar of Bracknell, Berks, having kindly performed the Service.

Saturday 9 January 2010

Merryland in French, not 1815

Here are some pictures of an "1815" edition of a French translation of A New Description of Merryland (1740) that I recently bought: Description Topographique, Historique, Critique et Nouvelle du pays et des Environs de la Forêt Noire Situés dans la Province du Merryland. Traduction Trés-Libre de l’Anglais (Paris: Chez Les Marchands De Nouveautés, [1815]).

This is one of a number of nineteenth-century reprints of Merryland, most of which are falsely dated "1805." In this case the wrapper provides a date of 1815, but the title-page itself is undated. Fortunately, the paper is clearly watermarked with the date 1872.

I have been looking at all of these French editions of Merryland as a part of my research, compiling bibliographical descriptions based on photocopies, scans and microfilms. I have also been looking at catalogue entries, some of which offer dates for editions without explaining how the dates were arrived at.

Now that I have been able to handle a copy I can see where some of these dates may have come from: watermarks. Of course, watermarks do not appear in photocopies, scans and microfilms, which is why photocopies, scans and microfilms are no substitute for original editions and why collections of original editions remain essential for scholars.

[UPDATE 27 October 2015: for a post about (and images of) another falsely-dated edition of Merryland ('1805', actually 1863), see here.]

[UPDATE: 2 July 2016: After all my pictures disappeared (again) I decided to give up on external hosts for large versions (1000px) of my image files and, for now on, will stick with the smaller images (500px), which Blogger is prepared to host.]

Thursday 7 January 2010

Gone Book-Shoppin'

I spent the last few days on the road to and from Bendigo. Searching for a few bookshops to visit on the trip I found a page on the Bendigo tourism site for the "Book Lovers Trail." Having never heard of this trail I thought I'd give it a go.

For those who love to fossick through the shelves of a book store in search of a hidden gem - the Book Lovers' Trail brochure will be a handy travelling tool. The trail weaves through Central Victoria and highlights ten of the region’s favourite secondhand book shops.

The stores are located in Bendigo, Castlemaine, Campbells Creek, Kyneton, Daylesford, Woodend, Ballarat, Buninyong and Trentham – each offering their own speciality collection and charm.

The brochure wasn't available online so I did a few searches for "Book Lovers Trail" on Google Maps and eventually discovered a map of all of the shops (see here).

At my first stop—Woodend Bookshop—I was told that the trail and/or trail brochure is now defunct, the victim of a few closures and the waning enthusiasm of the organisers. (Apparently, the master of the brochure went west with one of the ex-booksellers!)

Clearly, in order to be successful, this sort of thing requires the sustained input of someone like Paul McShane (Paul—Convenor of BookTown Australia—created the BOOKtrail concept in the Southern Highlands of NSW. He gave a fascinating talk on this subject very recently, on a stormy night at the State Library of Victoria. See here.)

Not to be stopped by a missing brochure I visited: Woodend Bookshop, Woodend, on the way north; Book Now, Bendigo; and Soldier & Scholar, Castlemaine, and Book Heaven, Campbells Creek, on the way south again.

Inexplicably missing from the original brochure was Bendigo Book Mark Two, which—as of xmas '09—is a few doors from Dirt Cheap Books.

The two stand-out bookshops for me were Bendigo Book Mark Two and Book Heaven, Campbells Creek (though both Woodend Bookshop and Book Now, Bendigo, are perfectly respectable shops). Both have large stocks and are well organised.*

And though the evil influence of the internet** is evident from the pricing of some of the more interesting books, enough slip through the net to make it possible for me to buy a handful of books at both shops. The cheapest was Percy (at $3.50) and the most expensive was The Buried Cities of Campania (at $25.00).

*For an account of the Book Lovers' Trail in 2006 see Liz Filleul's All That Glisters, which was published by Australian Traveller on 27 September 2006.

**In 1910, Augustine Birrell wrote: "The enormous increase of booksellers' catalogues and their wide circulation amongst the trade [read "access to the internet"] has already produced a hateful uniformity of prices. Go where you will it is all the same to the odd sixpence. Time was when you could map out the country for yourself with some hopefulness of plunder." Time was indeed.

[UPDATE: 2 July 2016: After all my pictures disappeared (again) I decided to give up on external hosts for large versions (1000px) of my image files and, for now on, will stick with the smaller images (500px), which Blogger is prepared to host.]