“This particular moonshot fell about a hundred-million books short of the moon.” Over at The Atlantic James Somers has the story of what went wrong with Google’s audacious plan to digitize all the world’s books. And like an interesting time capsule, you might want to read Robin Sloan in our own pages from some years back about a very, very cool book scanner.
NY Press has a long look at the history of iconoclastic indie press Soft Skull, which recently shuttered its New York office, effectively ending the publisher’s run as a standalone press and making it just an imprint of California-based parent (and, it should be noted, rescuer from financial straights) Counterpoint. Incidentally, I’ve had a front row seat for all this, as, for the book I’m co-editing, I was initially working with the good folks in New York and then everything was suddenly (and thankfully without a hitch) transferred to the folks in Berkeley. (Thanks, Craig)
Do you have 153 hours to kill? Do you love long French masterworks? If so, the folks at Naxos AudioBooks might have something up your alley. At 120-discs, publisher Nicolas Soames believes his company’s unabridged audiobook for Marcel Proust’s Remembrance of Things Past might just be the longest audiobook in existence. (Note: that means you’d still have 23 hours of the audiobook left after making this drive around the country.)
“We believe in the digital with abandon. So when something of artisanal quality is placed in our hands, or we see something hanging on a wall drawn by an actual hand, we feel a little shock. We remember how to feel something. Maybe not quite an emotion, but the touch of paper does something to us. We use our senses again.” Celebrating fifty years of the French publisher L’école des Loisirs, Gnaomi Siemens reflects on the power of hand-drawn images and the future of the book.
Over at The Paris Review, Hannah Tennant-Moore defends the merits of disturbing literature. We are fascinated with the disturbing, because, as Tennant-Moore asserts, “wonder, disgust: both feelings are true.” Here’s a bonus piece on A.M. Homes‘ darkly comic May We Be Forgiven and on comforting the disturbed — or is it disturbing the comforted?
On Friday, Jennifer Egan won the 2010 Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Fiction. Michael Lewis won in the nonfiction category, and Peter Bognanni won the First Fiction Prize. See the full list of winners here, and head over to Jacket Copy for some great coverage of the Festival of Books.
Elizabeth Bishop’s Brazil. And earlier: Bishop, translation, and the transmutation of loss.
“I don’t know how to give more of myself than a poem. Every poem I write is more accurate than anything I can ever tweet about it: my interior life, and its struggle and desire to converse with the exterior world.” Tarfia Faizullah writes for Poetry‘s blog about why she doesn’t want to explain her poems, the power of breath, and the frustrating implications of the question, “did it happen to you?”