Don’t wear gloves when you handle old books. From the British Library:

Whenever a manuscript is featured in the press or on television, we inevitably receive adverse comments about our failure to wear white gloves! The association of glove-wearing with handling old books is in fact a modern phenomenon, and one that has little scientific basis.

Essentially, we recommend that it is preferable to handle manuscripts with clean dry hands.

We were told the same thing when I studied book design at Reading. Gloves tend to cause more damage than they prevent. It’s one of those things that looks nice in photos.



American War 📚

American War is the first novel from Omar El Akkad. If you’re into dystopian sci-fi, I’d definitely recommend picking up a copy. His prose can be a bit of a slog at times, but worth seeing through. The world building is amazing, I found myself wanting to know more about it.

Full disclosure: Omar is an old friend, so I might be a tad biased. He has always been a prolific wordsmith, and one of my favourite writers, so I’m super-stoked that the book has been well received. Go Omar!





The book as a device

The Internet Archive is now archiving physical copies of books.

As the Internet Archive has digitized collections and placed them on our computer disks, we have found that the digital versions have more and more in common with physical versions. The computer hard disks, while holding digital data, are still physical objects. As such we archive them as they retire after their 3-5 year lifetime. Similarly, we also archive microfilm, which was a previous generation’s access format. So hard drives are just another physical format that stores information. This connection showed us that physical archiving is still an important function in a digital era.

Recognizing that a book is just another device is important. It’s way too easy to make all sorts of cute analogies and comparisons between books and the digital world, so I’ll avoid it. How our society consumes words and images is bound to shift, but the book will still be here in fifty years.



The Last Ringbearer

Imagine being on the losing side of the battles in The Lord of the Rings — Russian author, Kirill Yeskov did just that, and produced The Last Ringbearer. From an article about the book:

In Yeskov’s retelling, the wizard Gandalf is a war-monger intent on crushing the scientific and technological initiative of Mordor and its southern allies because science “destroys the harmony of the world and dries up the souls of men!” He’s in cahoots with the elves, who aim to become “masters of the world,” and turn Middle-earth into a “bad copy” of their magical homeland across the sea. Barad-dur, also known as the Dark Tower and Sauron’s citadel, is, by contrast, described as “that amazing city of alchemists and poets, mechanics and astronomers, philosophers and physicians, the heart of the only civilization in Middle-earth to bet on rational knowledge and bravely pitch its barely adolescent technology against ancient magic.”

An English translation by Yisroel Markov is available for download, although just in PDF at the moment.