Many feared the permanent loss of thousands of precious manuscripts and relics after insurgents razed Timbuktu’s Ahmed Baba Institute of Higher Learning and Islamic Research. The Institute was home to over 30,000 manuscripts dating back to the 13th century. Or was it? In a fascinating report, Rukmini Callimachi details the extraordinary efforts of the some passionate locals that wound up saving much of the collection.
Book publishers will tell you how many titles they are publishing this fall. Apple at least reveals how many iPads it sells. But Amazon is taking a different tack, shrouding much of the plans for its publishing venture in secrecy.
As libraries struggle to survive in the UK, community-based lending libraries are sprouting up to fill in the gaps. The Society of Authors is threatening to take legal action against these libraries after discovering that they are not required to pay any royalties to authors.
Jeff Sharlet had a challenge for his creative nonfiction students at Dartmouth College. Sensing that journalism had become too “dull,” too mired in a “culture of professionalism” divided “between reporting and ‘storytelling,’” Sharlet asked his students who didn’t “know [any] better” to create a magazine of their own. The result, 40 Towns, embraces “the right conditions” of literary creation – immersion, journalism, regionalism and “a term of revision” – to present a “collection of documents, artifacts of real life” about the Upper Valley.
I’ve got another post up about Nadeem Aslam’s Maps for Lost Lovers at the LBC Blog. I’ve been going back and forth with Sam (of Golden Rule Jones), so check out his posts, too.Calvin Trillin talks turducken and other things Cajun in the most recent issue of National Geographic. The piece is typical Trillin, funny and featuring mouth-watering descriptions of various regional delicacies. (Much like the articles collected in a favorite book of mine, Trillin’s Feeding a Yen)Jim Crace discusses his Guardian column, The Digested Read, “The idea of rewriting a book in the style of the author in just 500 or so words is a gift to any satirist, and it remains the only outlet in the print media where publishers’ hype always gets treated with the irreverence it deserves.” A collection of the columns is out in EnglandThe CS Monitor takes a look at the self-publishing craze: “IUniverse, which prints several thousand books annually, reports submissions are up 17 percent in the first six months of this year.”A couple of new McSweeney’s offerings that you may or may not have seen already. Noisy Outlaws, Unfriendly Blobs, and Some Other Things… is anthology for young adults, edited by Lemony Snicket and with stories by Nick Hornby, John Scieszka and Neil Gaiman, among others. Meanwhile Issue #17 of their Quarterly Concern is also out. According to Amazon: “Issue 17 is not an ordinary issue of McSweeney’s. It is, however, an ordinary bundle of mail, stacked and rubber-banded, containing the usual items: a recent issue of Yeti Researcher, a sausage-basket catalog, a flyer for slashed prices on multi-user garments, a couple letters… the usual. Also: the debut of a DVD quarterly, featuring never-before-seen work by Spike Jonze and David O. Russell. Also: stories.”
Recommended Reading: Nathan Scott McNamara writes for The Atlantic on why we need indie publishers. “Eighty percent of U.S. books are produced by the Big Five publishers, but with each passing year—and with a stable small number of annual releases—independent presses are earning more of the literary conversation, gaining frequent articles and reviews in The New York Times, The Guardian, The New Yorker, and more.” You could also read Rebecca J. Novelli’s thoughts on Roberto Calasso’s The Art of the Publisher.