Because there is no greater companion to the book than the internet, and just for humanist kicks, I will start pasting to one place links/excerpts/discoveries from my reading about (sometimes very tangentially) bookishness on a weekly basis. So feel free to add your links in the comments because that would really help add to the hive, I’d appreciate it!

1. FOLK TYPOGRAPHY: Although this has been around for awhile, there is a flickr group pool dedicated entirely to pictures around the world of ‘Folk Typography’, so-called because it consists of(mostly) hand-written signs, advertisements, graffiti, etc. A really great gallery of what otherwise would be one the most under-represented category of typography. APP IDEA: You’ve heard of applications that identify types, which work by allowing you to upload an image and then match that image to a selection of glyphs– so why not an equivalent to give us a sense of the ways in which fixed typography influence the shape of handwriting?

2. DOLPHIN LIT:  Something Aldus obviously saw coming. Now that we have a machine that can potentially communicate with dolphins,we have a new niche market for the publishing industry to target, possibly one which Durabooks, makers of fine water-proof books, has already begun to. And all this comes to light, appropriately, at the 10th anniversary of Douglas Adams’ death. (Also because google is amazing, in case you wondered there is such a think as a Dolphin Book of Shadows for sale. As above so below!

3. “THE DEATH OF THE WOMEN’S HARDBACK“: Emily Rhodes over at The Spectator gives a smart analysis of what the failings of the publishing industry mean in real terms for the look, feel, and distribution of books by women– a turn in marketing influenced by the gender of readers. This is also something that was discussed a few months ago at the ICA’s discussion of “Novel Women”.

CICERO, Marcus Tullius. De Oratore, etc.....Venice: Thomas de Blavis, de Alexandria, 16 May 1488.

4. TYPEWRITERS IN SCULPTURE: You may remember my self-indulgent little sermon on the “death” of the Typewriter a few weeks ago which included a prediction that the perceived “death” of the machine will provoke a rise in its artistic cache. Jeremy Mayer has given credence to this spectacularly with his Bust V (Grandfather), assembled from typewriter parts.

5. SAVE THE LIBRARIES (UK): The Guardian has given continually elegant coverage of what is at stake with the proposed cuts to/closings of libraries across the UK. Here Robert McCumm discusses the essential service libraries provide to communities, of which their books are only a part. The crisis of cutting funding has brought this role of the libraries even morso to the fore. Also see this earlier article: “The Secret Life of Libraries“.

6. SAVE THE C16th LIBRARY: The famous Pillone Library, famous for the decorated fore-edges of each book, painted by Cesare Vecellio, is announced this week to be up for auction at Christie’s (London, 8 June). “[T]he Pillone books will be offered first as one lot. They are described in lots 23 to 39. Should their reserve price as one lot not be reached, the books will be offered separately at their individual estimates. When discussing this with a colleague, he mentioned that the bookseller Pierre Berès who bought the books when they were last up for auction individually in 1957 insisted on buying each individual lot in order to preserve the library en bloc. Let’s hope the outcome is similar this time around.


Technomorbidity. Technopocalypse. The ease of attaching a techno-prefix to just about anything these days, thinking of all things as having an app, has a flip-side that is quick to proclaim the death of the technolithic. Nostalgia sets in: What could life possibly be like without this gadget that has died? It happens in both directions: the still fairly new Flip-Cam was pronounced D.O.A about a week ago. Now, from the older end of the spectrum, the typewriter is the latest victim. R.I.P Typewriter was a trending topic on twitter the other day, surrounding a Daily Mail et. al article about how the ‘Last typewriter factory in the world closes its doors’. Suddenly QWERTY was awash with tears, the funeral orations proofed, and only a fraction of news sources were found to say otherwise. But drama aside, it’s worth taking into account that technologies work concurrently, they don’t replace one another in some kind of cataclysmic pole shift (like the one geologists reject about the rest of the world).
On the plus side, technological obsolescence is good for art, because it has a way of contributing to the field of artistic supplies. The typewriter has and now will continue to give rise to some artistic re-presentation: in the same way that outdated video game systems are now the focus of the ‘chiptune’ music style, or that the old Space Jam website is exalted now that we realize it’s still around, and just like the use of letter press has seen a serious (and exciting, and beautiful) resurgence in use, the artist’s studio will offer some respite for the typewriter. Continue reading