Publishing notes from the Turn of the Century

This week's PW news comes from issue 1460, Jan 20, 1900:

NEW YORK CITY- the sheriff last week received an execution against the Club Woman's magazine Publishing Co., of 384 Fifth Avenue, for $824, in favor of William T. Payton, and he levied upon the office furniture. Mr. Payton applied for an injunction to restrain the sheriff.

TRUSLOVE, HANSON, and COMBA, New York, have published a neat edition of "Saunterings in Bookland with Gleanings by the Way," selected and edited by Joseph Shaylor, cmpiler of 'The Pleasures of Literature," and "The Solace of Books."

So much has been said about Tolstoi's "Resurrection," the novel on which he is now at work, that we are glad to learn from the publishers, Dodd, Mead, & co., that it will probably see light before next autumn. Tolstoi (although he has not fully regained his health) is at work completing the story. Much criticism will doubtless be heard concerning the morals of the characters in the story, but those who have read it as far as written pronounce it a terrible arraignment of European morals, and say that it should exert a tremendous influence for good.

A second revised edition, in two volumes, is ready of O.N. Nelson's "History of the Scandinavian in the United States," of which the first volume appeared in 1893, and has now been brought down to 1900, with much new material and several articles entirely rewritten. The bibliography has been increased by 125 titles. The second volume was of such recent issue that the required changes are not so noteworthy. A very important chapter in this work relates to the nationality of criminal and insane persons in the United States. It has been thoroughly approved by experts.

The fact that there were literally several millions of signatures to the protest against admitting Congressman-elect Roberts, of Utah, to a seat in the House of Representatives, shows how keen an interest there still is in the "Morman (sic) question." Believing it to be yet unsolved, and thus vital and timely, Fords, Howard and Hubert are reprinting Mrs. A.S. Paddock's graphic story, "The Fate of Madame La Tour." Already in its tenth thousand, this strange romance of thinly veiled fact depicts the origin, ideas, principles, and methods of Mormon life from the inside in an alluring narrative, but with reasonable accuracy. It should lay hold on a new and larger public.


Amy Winehouse smoked some FRBR too!

First off, this post by Karen Schneider sums up my brain for the past two days. She merges the latest ear-worm to take up residence in my head with FRBR, something I've been trying to really understand before the semester starts (I received 2 books on FRBR for the library that will be used as reference in my class this spring. So I know I'm going to be dealing with it more and more in the next few months). I actually ended up using the FRBR description of the Work entity in my rights class as an analogy to help understand the publisher's place in the creation of a published work. (I'm sorry class that was very wrong of me, but it was the only way I could visualize things at that point in time.)

Is it wrong that I've started to filter things through LS concepts?

For those of you who are reading this because you saw or searched FRBR. Stop go to The Free Range Librarian and read the post already. Don't for get to click on the link to Dan Chudnov.


Lawrence Clark Powell

Over Christmas I was doing some research for my Spring classes and I started down the road of Book Studies. Why didn't anyone tell me about this specialized program?

To think there's a bigger theoretical model out there on how publishing, library science, literature and history work together. I found Book Studies while looking for books on author contracts! While searching for other books I re/discovered the work of Lawrence Clark Powell. I must have known about him/ read him at some point and completely forgotten about it.

His writing is so familiar; maybe it's just one of those moments when I've found an author who has managed to nail down the thoughts I have as I prepare class notes, sit in cataloging class, work on some periodicals. . .

I'm slowly making my way through Clark's oeuvre. This week ILL hand-delivered one of the books I requested (talk about service!). The thin volume was Books are Basic: The Essential Lawrence Clark Powell which is actually a collection of memorable aphorisms. At first I was less than enthralled. Silly me, in my rush to request a selection of Clark's work I overlooked the LCSH for the book which identified it as maxims. But then on the train ride home I needed something to read for the last 10 minutes of my commute and cracked open the book.

There are some great morsels that I probably would not have found in his other writing since the book also collects quotes from his articles for Library Journal and his writing on California and travel, books I probably would have ignored.

Some of my favorites:

  • Read by sunlight, lamplight, or as Lincoln did, firelight, the books is still the best way man has found to record and transmit his knowledge."~ A Passion For Books (1958)

  • One good book leads to a dozen others.~ Books in My Baggage (1960)

  • If you want to maintain your security and self-assurance, stay away from certain books. Don't open that Little Package, if you are afraid of being blown sky-high, or lulled to dreams, or dazzled by beauty. Pandora's box had nothing on a book.~ The Little Package (1964)

  • Bookmen know that the really rare books are the ones nobody wants but you.~ Books in My Baggage (1960)

  • We are the children of a technological age. We have found streamlined ways of doing much of our routine work. Printing is no longer the only way of reproducing books. Reading them, however, has not changed; it is the same as it has always been, since Callimachus administered the great library in Alexandria.~ Books in My Baggage (1960)

  • We rarely discover a book on own own. We read about it, or are told of it by a friend, a librarian, a bookseller, or a reviewer. Help is needed to discern the pearls of literature in the trash-heap of our age of permissive print.~ California Classics (1971)

  • A library should have as few rules as possible, someone (not a librarian) once said, and break them all whenever necessary.~ The Little Package (1964)

More to come as I make my way through the literature. . .


110 years ago today

Some news from the distant past:

JOAQUIN MILLER is now on a little steamer Weare on the Yukon, frozen in and cannot reach home until the ice thaws next July.

EATON & MAINS have just issued "How to Make Sunday-School Go," by A.T. Brewer, superintendent of the Epworth Memorial Sunday School, Cleveland, Ohio. The little practical volume consists of contributions by various successful Sunday-school workers who cover thirty-nine problems of successful Sunday-school work.

~Publishers Weekly, No. 1356, January 22, 1898

Labels: ,

Words of Comfort

While looking for news of the day from 2 centuries ago, I found this little tidbit.

From Publishers Weekly #1043, January 23, 1892:


Napoleaon Bonaparte, when a poor lieutenant took the agency for a work entitled "L'Histoire de la Revolution." in the foyer of the great palace of the Louvre can be seen to-day the great emperor's canvassing outfit with the long list of subscribers he secured.

George Washington, when young canvassed around Alexandria, Va., and sold over 200 copies of a work entitled "Bydell's American Savage."

Mark Twain was a book agent.

Longfellow sold books by subscription.

Jay Gould, when starting in life, was a canvasser.

Daniel Webster paid his second term's tuition at Dartmouth by handling "De Tocqueville's America," in Merrimac County, New Hampshire.

General U. S. Grant canvassed for "Irving's Columbus."

Rutherford B. Hayes canvassed for "Baxter's saints' Rest."

James G. Blaine began life as a canvasser for a "Life of Henry Clay."

Bismark, when at Heidelberg, spent a vacation canvassing for one of Blumenbach's handbooks.

(Imagine the above read by Sam Elliott and you have your inspiration of the week.)



News from 115 years ago

Some highlights from the world of publishing as reported by Publishers weekly, Jan. 16, 1892.

"in consequence of the recent verdict in the case of Pinnock vs. Chapman & Hall, it is said that some London publishers talk of requiring an indemnity from authors against proceedings for libel."

"F.J. Schulte & co., Chicago, announce for immediate publication in their Ariel Series 'An Honest Lawyer' by Alvah Milton Kerr; and 'Better Days, or millionaire of to-morrow,' by Thomas Fitch and his wife, Mrs. Anna M. Fitch. Both of these novels, like the large majority of the Ariel Series, are books with a purpose. The central idea in 'An Honest Lawyer' is that, as it is impossible to conceive of a millionaire Christ, so the accumulation of wealth beyond a reasonable limit is inconsistent with true Christianity. 'Better Days' is dedicated to the millionaires of America. The hero, a mining expert, discovers a vein of gold so rich and so vast that the great problem arises how to dispose of the enormous yield of the yellow metal without destroying its value for coinage or unsettling the monetary markets of the world. In the course of the story many of the most important problems now confronting the world are touched upon. They have just published 'Francis Bacon and His Secret Society,' by Mrs. Henry Pott of London, who has devoted years to the preparation of the work."

Nothing else of much note for the oughts, but there is this from the Journalistic Notes of the same issue:
"The February Atlantic will contain an article of great interest by Professor Shaler, of Harvard, a native Kentuckian, giving the reasons which led him to join the Union army in the War of the Rebellion. Professor Rodolfo Lanciani, author of 'Ancient Rome in Light of Recent Discoveries' will contribute to the same issue a very remarkable paper on 'the Pageant at Rome in the Year 17 B.C.,' giving the details of some inscriptions very recently discovered commemorating the celebration of secular games under Augustus, for which Horace wrote his famous, 'Carmen Seculare.'"

Boring, yes. Different than today, not really.



She got half my posts

". . . so then I walk in on the b***h and she's on all fours engaged in some of that crazy-a** tentacle s**t with this giant space alien who does a mind-meld with me so i suffer from synesthesia."

So one of the feed on my reader pointed me to this story in the New York Times about a man, a wife, their divorce and a blog. Sounds like a great TV pilot. Oh wait. . .

All kidding aside, there's some free speech issues here, especially if the fictionalized account is as ridiculous as above. Of course if it isn't it won't be just a divorce but a potential libel suit as well. So many legal avenues, hurts brain.

Labels: ,


Why read when you can play a game about reading instead

I wanted to like Bookchase, but I can't tell how it's unique or different enough from a certain game on pursuing trivia to make it stand out. I also get the feeling that the questions might not all be about books but about general trivia. Make this a chase for some antiquarian books and everyone has to answer different levels of questions on books and libraries. I'm there (probably alone, because who really wants to play a game focused only on books instead of, say, actually sitting down and reading one.) I get the concept, get people interested in reading, but it doesn't seem different enough.

Labels: ,


Publishing News, January 4, 1890

Some highlights of the publishing trade from the week of January 4, 1890 as reported by PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.


The POPE MFG. CO. have issues a useful desk calendar as an advertisement of their Columbia bicycles.

SAMPSON LOW & CO. have published a second revised edition of P.H. Emerson's charming "English Idyls," a series of prose poems on various subjects.

We are pleased to note that Burrows Brothers Company's handsome edition of "Lorna Doone" has met with a sale far beyond the anticipation of the publishers.

METHUEN & CO., London, will publish shortly a new book by Baring Gould, entitled "old Country Life," treating od the country customs of the last century, old houses, old roads, old country parsons, and old musicians. The book will be fully illustrated.

THE AUTHORS COOPERATIVE PUBLISHING CO., London, have recently published a neat and artistic volume entitled "A book of Vagrom Men and Vagrant Thoughts," by Alfred T. Story. The author in a pleasing and entertaining manner treats of tramp musicians, peddlers, ballad-singers, tinkers, sparrows, and a host of other vagrants. the volume reflects creditably upon publisher and author.

The book trade of Atlanta, Ga., is enjoying a little fun caused by a "tug-of-war" in progress between the dry-goods bazaar and a book and stationery concern. It would seem, according to the American stationer, "that last winter Thornton & Grubb, of Atlanta, were able to handle a very good line of books at the phenomenally low price of twenty-five cents per volume, and consequently they made so good a drive on them that the greed of one of the big big dry-goods houses was aroused to the extent of making heavy purchases of the books in New York, and a short time ago it displayed them on its counters at nineteen cents a volume. Having a pretty good supply on hand, Thornton & Grubb announced the next day the same book at eighteen cents. The next morning the bazaar dropped a cent below that, to be followed by Thornton & Grubb posting the books at sixteen cents. The bazaar saw them one better, at which point the sinews of war gave out and, at last report, both belligerents were resting on their oars awaiting a large consignment of books, on receipt of which the contest will undoubtedly be resumed. Other booksellers, with one exception, have remained simply spectators of the fray, as they do not handle the books. The exception is W.B. Burke, the 'Old Bookstore Man,' who on the 4th inst. hung up a lot of handkerchiefs, striped hosiery, etc., in front of his store, and announced 'cut rates in dry-goods.' What other lines of feminine apparel Mr. Burke will add to his display is not known, but no doubt the ladies of Atlanta, purses in hand, are keeping a sharp eye on his movements, and stand ready to crowd the store the moment he spreads out a genuine bargain counter of hooks and eyes, whalebones, dress braids, gloves, tapes, laces, embroidery, and other things dear to the female heart. We hope he will sail in courageously. Meanwhile the legitimate book trade is getting another punch in the ribs.

Labels: ,


Bang No indication on cover which photo house is offering this image for covers. Imagine the release forms for the models.

The copyright? 2004.



Ever see a 4 million dollar book?


More from Amazon on their latest acquisition.

I really like the look of the think. Not crazy about the blue ink destroys the allure of it being some artifact from long ago. I'm a little disappointed in the book once it's opened. It looks mysterious and old on the outside but almost like a rough cut moleskine once it's opened.

Oh well . . .

"Hands off book titles as cheap descriptors!"

Aside from Public Domain Day (except for here in America- 1936 4EVA!), the start of January also means it's time for the 2008 List of Banished Words from Lake Superior State University.


  • They've come to accept what everyone else knows about truthiness: it's awesome.

  • On "perfect storm"- "Hands off book titles as cheap descriptors!" – David Hollis, Hamilton, New York.

  • Pop via decorators

  • It is what it is

Insert witty phrase using "random," "sweet," and "Back in the day." wait we're just banning them this year?


Still surfing?

As it's the first of the year and I'm trying to clean up my Google reader (reread the starred stuff and either transferring it to my del.icio.us page or deleting it) I have organization on the mind.

So this little bit from Ryan Holiday stuck out from this post:

Here a general rule of thumb – The 70% Surfing Rule: if you surf vs. subscribe, assume you will spend at least 70% of your online time consuming interesting instead of actionable information, and 70% of the time, you won’t return to the task you initially set out to complete.

For anyone who relies on RSS readers and del.icio.us to keep moving, there are some good reinforcements and reminders on how to use these tools. Ryan also breaks down Stumbled Upon for anyone interested. I'll stick to my RSS feeds and del.icio.us.

Labels: ,

2008, 100 posts need a redesign

Let's see how often I'll post this year- maybe not too often.

What's up in the next few months: teaching and studenting.

I'll be teaching two classes in Emerson this semester: one on electronic publishing and one on rights. . . Miles to go before I sleep . ..

And only one class: descriptive cataloging, but what a class.

Okay on with the show. . .