Yesterday we go the good news that the book proposal by Nora Madison and myself has been accepted by Rowman and Littlefield’s Resistance Studies series. The working title is “Everyday Activism: Technologies of Resistance” (but this will be changed later) and looks at the ways in which technology assists, mediates, and hampers acts of resistance. Tentatively the book will be published in the end of 2019. We are really excited about this project and happy to be able to focus on a long term project.
In conjunction with this I shall be using the blog to throw out ideas/updates about the project and generally return to using the blog as a more integral writing tool.
The Atlantic published A Reading Guide for Those in Despair About American Politics. It’s a list worth looking through, and of course, reading…
- Americanah By Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
- The New Jim Crow By Michelle Alexander
- The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian By Sherman Alexie
- Truth Overruled: The Future of Marriage and Religious Freedom By Ryan T. Anderson
- The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism By Edward Baptist
- Taking Rites Seriously: Law, Politics, and the Reasonableness of Faith By Francis Beckwith
- The Coming By Daniel Black
- The Tyranny of Guilt: An Essay on Western Masochism By Pascal Bruckner
- Between the World and Me By Ta-Nehisi Coates
- Democracy Remixed: Black Youth and the Future of American Politics By Cathy Cohen
- Evicted By Matthew Desmond
- Roads to Dominion: Right Wing Movements and Political Power in the United States By Sara Diamond
- Sleeping Giant: How the New Working Class Will Transform America By Tamara Draut
- Affluence and Influence: Economic Inequality and Political Power in America By Martin Gilens
- The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion By Jonathan Haidt
- The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements By Eric Hoffer
- Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right By Arlie Russell Hochschild
- Book of Judges
- In Pursuit of Equity: Women, Men, and the Quest for Economic Citizenship in the 20th Century By Alice Kessler-Harris
- The Fractured Republic: Renewing America’s Social Contract in the Age of Individualism By Yuval Levin
- The Possessive Investment in Whiteness By George Lipsitz
- Dog Whistle Politics: How Coded Racial Appeals Have Reinvented Racism and Wrecked the Middle Class By Ian Haney López
- A Canticle for Leibowitz By Walter Miller
- Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010 By Charles Murray
- Dreams From My Father By Barack Obama
- The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America By George Packer
- Citizen: An American Lyric By Claudia Rankine
- Killing the Black Body: Race, Reproduction, and the Meaning of Liberty By Dorothy Roberts
- The Next America: Boomers, Millennials, and the Looming Generational Showdown By Paul Taylor
- Because of Sex: One Law, 10 Cases and 50 Years That Changed American Women’s Lives at Work By Gillian Thomas
- Habibi By Craig Thompson
- Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! By Mo Willems
- American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America By Colin Woodard
The book market is a mess and the second hand book market is even weirder. As a buyer the second hand books on Amazon are amazing as many hardcover, good condition books are listed at a penny $0.01 of course the shipping is added to this but at $4 a book this is still a sweet deal. After buying the 5 volume History of Private Life and having it shipped to my house for a total of $20 dollars I tried to figure out how it was even possible.
The massive set consisted on Volume I: From Pagan Rome to Byzantium, Volume II: Revelations of the Medieval World, Volume III: Passions of the Renaissance, Volume IV: From the Fires of Revolution to the Great War, Volume V: Riddles of Identity in Modern Times. Its authors are respected historians and the weight alone makes this an impressive purchase.
Naturally it made no sense and I was at a loss to how it worked. Finally, after Googling, I came across this thread. Its from 2012 but it throws some light on how the whole thing works.
A seller lists a book for $.01
Amazon collects $3.99 from the buyer and gives $2.66 ($.01 + $2.64 shipping allowance) to the seller. (The $1.35 ‘closing fee’ is subtracted from the shipping allowance by Amazon)
The seller is a ProMerchant, so doesn’t pay the $.99 fee (but does pay $40 per month to be a ProMerchant).
The 15% fee on 1 cent is zero.
The seller pays $2.38 or $2.88 in postage for a 1 or 2 pound package (or less, if it is very light weight and can go First Class. Much less if the penny seller is high volume and uses Bulk Mail).
The seller cost for the book is zero, because he got it for free somehow.
The seller used recycled packing materials, so those cost nothing, too.
The seller ends-up with $.27 (if it’s 1 pound media mail) in a domestic shipment (a bit more if it’s mailed using Bulk Mail).
The seller is happy with his “profit”.
Amazon ends up with $1.35 from the shipping.
Amazon is even happier than the seller.
Its not exactly big bucks but it does explain a little more how 1penny books can be sold at a (sort of) profit.
There is something compelling about lists. That’s why they are often used as clickbait and some of them are amusing. But there is something about book lists. The 10, 50, 100 books you should read always makes me wonder why the list is there. Is it to make those who have read them feel better? Or is it designed to make those who haven’t read feel inferior? Or maybe they are designed to rank our cultural capital? If you read 80 out of 100 on the list you have a solid B. Its good but you must try harder. Oh, dear only a C- well then…
This usually doesn’t bother me but then I came across the list of 80 Books Every Man Should Read with the tag line: ” An unranked, incomplete, utterly biased list of the greatest works of literature ever published. How many have you read?”
What does it mean? How many must I have read to be considered a man?
It’s wrong, but I can’t help it, I found this line really funny:
“Used books are the sluts of the literary world, passed around from person to person spreading their pages for anyone. Getting cheaper and cheaper until they eventually end up in prison”
The quote comes from Stephen Colbert having a justifiable rant against Amazon over their behavior in the Hachette book negotiations.
Actually I love used books. Aside from the amazing concept of being able to get quality work at almost no cost they also present us with several emotions.
The 80 year old book of inferior poetry I picked up in a sale always fills me with sadness because of the hopes and aspirations of the author. The several books with the same ad libris always makes me wonder if I only could have met the owner of this library and spent an evening talking about our shared interests. The lovely little novel I bought in a small town in Sweden makes me think I rescued it like a stray cat.
Most of all I like the small cryptic notes other people write in books. Everything from exclamation marks, angry question marks to words and sentences agreeing or arguing with the author and now being passed along to me.
Here is the entire clip
Another example of slutiness in literature is this
Vulpes Libris wrote a review of George Orwell’s gritty Road to Wigan Pier. Which made me go find that half remembered quote.
The world is a raft sailing through space with, potentially, plenty of provisions for everybody; the idea that we must all cooperate and see to it that everyone does his fair share of the work and gets his fair share of the provisions seems so blatantly obvious that one would say that no one could possibly fail to accept it unless he had some corrupt motive for clinging to the present system.
Damn. Awesome. Now I need to re-read the book.
This lovely measurement comes from lovereading.co.uk
In the last weeks there has been a new buzz about a speed reading software called Spritz. The idea is that too much time is spent scanning sentences while reading. So if the reader can keep her eyes steady and the words can fly past then reading speeds can increase. HuffPost reports that with Spritz a reader should be able to clear 1000 words per minute, which would mean that you could read a Harry Potter book in under 90 minutes.
Naturally this is not really a new thing. There is other software aimed at increasing reading speeds (Spreeder, Quickreader, Read Quick, and add ons for Firefox).
Viewed in this way applications like these are great for efficiency. But isn’t that the problem? Do we really read Harry Potter for efficiency? If we take software like this and add it to the numerous lists-of-books-to-read-before-you-die (Goodreads, 1001 books to read before you die, Amazon’s 100 books, 50 books before you die) you get a very odd relationship to literature and reading.
Efficiency is for washing, not for literature. Yes, there are too many books. No, you will never read them all. Even Erasmus complained of there being too many books in the 15th century.
Is there anywhere on earth exempt from these swarms of new books?
But the problem with an (almost) infinite number of books is not resolved by increasing our stress in reading so as to grab a larger part of the pie.
It’s always interesting to hear the position of authors on piracy. This is Neil Gaiman point of view. He doesn’t think that book piracy is all bad. When Gaiman’s books were shared illegally online, his sales actually went up 300 percent at independent book stores. (via GalleyCat)
There is an interesting connection between ebooks and memory. There are comments on this in many places (Scholarly Kitchen, Time, Scientific American) but Verlyn Klinkenborg sums it up nicely:
I finish reading a book on my iPad — one by Ed McBain, for instance — and I shelve it in the cloud. It vanishes from my “device” and from my consciousness too. It’s very odd.
This is familiar to those who read ebooks but it is really not that strange. Despite being different contents the ebook text lacks dimensions and differences that help our memories. Books have different covers, fonts, layouts, graphical elements, paper quality and more. They are marked by use: Old books are creased and sometimes stained. There may be a coffee stain on a page in your favorite book that will evoke a memory of the reader spilling coffee while reading. While attempting to find a passage in a paper book we can remember how far in the book the text appeared, that it was on the left or right and whether it was at the top of the page or not.
These dimensions are not available in ebooks. Most readers have only one font. Layouts barely vary, and if you have a stain on the screen, it appear on every page. All the ebooks weigh the same, look the same and smell the same. Only the text (not the font) varies. Because of this we struggle to remember texts we read in ebooks and this also effects our ability to understand new texts.
While I recognize the issue when it comes to ebooks. Does it really have the same effect with other e-reading? Many of us spend most of our days reading of screens. Blogs, emails and Wikipedia. Not to mention all the time we spend on online news and reading/re-reading our own writing. Are these more or less forgetful, compared with their physical counterparts? Or does the geography and variation of the web enable us to remember these more.
Is it not e-reading in general that makes us forget, but rather the poor design & format of the medium that hinders our memory? It could be that the screen based format is not the optimal for longer continuous texts.