Picturing Books:

all of these choices—these trans­po­si­tions we choose when read­ing— work. They work for us because books do not ten­der pre­cise images, sounds or smells. Books, like plays, present ideas, and the jux­ta­po­si­tion of ideas. It is the inter­ac­tion of ideas that cat­alyzes feel­ing in us readers.

A long essay that is well worth the read.

To know is to speak correctly

I’m still work­ing my way through Foucault’s The Order of Things and have made slower progress than pre­vi­ous weeks. Busy weeks at work and lots of travel will do that. As I was work­ing through my notes from the last 100 pages this quote caught my eye:

To know is to speak cor­rectly, and as the steady progress of the mind dic­tates; to speak is to know as far as one is able, and in accor­dance with the model imposed by those whose birth one shares.

I par­tic­u­larly like those first six words. To know is to speak cor­rectly. Has a nice feel­ing to it.

Platforming Books:

I strongly believe dig­i­tal books ben­e­fit from pub­lic end­points. The cur­rent gen­er­a­tion of read­ers (human, not elec­tronic) have formed expec­ta­tions about shar­ing text, and if you obstruct their abil­ity to share — to touch — dig­i­tal text, then your con­tent is as good as non-existent. Or, in the least, it’s less likely to be engaged.

Word. Art Space Tokyo is a gor­geous site and I bet will drive a lot of dig­i­tal sales, in addi­tion to readers.

If dig­i­tal cov­ers as we know them are so ‘dead,’ why do we hold them so gin­gerly? Treat them like print cov­ers? We can’t hurt them. They’re dead. So let’s start hack­ing. Pull them apart, cut them into bits and see what we come up with.

This is an essay for book lovers and design­ers curi­ous about where the cover has been, where it’s going, and what the ethos of cov­ers means for dig­i­tal book design. It’s for those of us dis­sat­is­fied with thought­lessly trans­fer­ring print assets to dig­i­tal and clos­ing our eyes.

The cover as we know it really is — gasp — ‘dead.’ But it’s dead because the way we touch dig­i­tal books is dif­fer­ent than the way we touch phys­i­cal books. And once you acknowl­edge that, use­ful corol­lar­ies emerge.

Craig Mod — Hack the Cover.

My recent reading list

Ian Beck’s post the other day inspired me to jot down some notes here about what I recently read. Similar to Ian, I am a binge reader of sorts. There are months that go by where I hardly crack open a book. Other months I will fin­ish a half-dozen.

Before I moved this site to WordPress.com I had a cus­tom post type that listed out which books I recently com­pleted in a spe­cial page tem­plate. Since that is no longer, here is what has kept me inter­ested recently.

Shop Class as Soulcraft

A rel­a­tively easy read but superbly inter­est­ing. Matthew Crawford writes about his expe­ri­ences in life as a mechanic and at a think tank. The guid­ing phi­los­o­phy behind the book is one I agree with.

Makers

I just fin­ished this the other day and loved it. I had heard good things from oth­ers and the book did not disappoint.

The Dark Tower

This has the ben­e­fit of being a 7-part series. I have been a Stephen King fan since 5th grade but I really think this is his finest work. I started the series a cou­ple times before but this time I finally have con­sis­tent time to fin­ish it. Since August I read vol­umes 3–5 and am about halfway through vol­ume 6 now.

The Dark Tower is a won­der­ful mix of futur­ism and west­ern fic­tion with a few dark twists thrown in. Handily the first vol­ume is short and easy to read. I would encour­age any­one to give that a read. If it hooks you the series just gets bet­ter from there.

Steve Jobs

Fairly inter­est­ing. Extremely fast read. This was decent but not great. I would rec­om­mend read­ing it and then lis­ten­ing to John Siracusa tear it apart in “The wrong guy” (pt. II).

Cloud Atlas

Michael Pick rec­om­mended this to me at our Budapest meetup. It was fas­ci­nat­ing. If you don’t mind non-linear fic­tion with a bit of imag­i­nary world con­struc­tion I can­not rec­om­mend it highly enough. Possibly the best piece of fic­tion I read this year.

The Effective Executive

If you are inter­ested in ideas around man­ag­ing teams this is a good one. Yes it is from the 1960s, but the advice is solid. Unlike some other busi­ness books it focuses on the con­crete with digestible advice that actu­ally gives you some­thing to take back to your work.

If your book is 600 pages long, you are demand­ing more of my time than I feel free to give. And if I could accom­plish the same change in my view of the world by read­ing a 60-page ver­sion of your argu­ment, why didn’t you just pub­lish a book this length instead?

The hon­est answer to this last ques­tion should dis­ap­point every­one: Publishers can’t charge enough money for 60-page books to sur­vive; thus, writ­ers can’t make a liv­ing by writ­ing them. But read­ers are begin­ning to feel that this shouldn’t be their prob­lem. Worse, many read­ers believe that they can just jump on YouTube and watch the author speak at a con­fer­ence, or skim his blog, and they will have absorbed most of what he has to say on a given sub­ject. In some cases this is true and sug­gests an endur­ing prob­lem for the busi­ness of pub­lish­ing. In other cases it clearly isn’t true and sug­gests an endur­ing prob­lem for our intel­lec­tual life.

Sam Harris — The Future of the Book.