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For the love of books

For the love of books published on No Comments on For the love of books

I have always had a great fondness for things that looked like books but weren’t books. In fact, I have a fondness for things that look like things they are not overall. I am remembering beautiful porcelain bowls that looked like lettuce leaves and porcelain cups that looked like solo cups…that’s another post. This one is all about the books. Amazingly, I only have one of these.


What Causes the Smell of New & Old Books? | Compound Interest

What Causes the Smell of New & Old Books? | Compound Interest published on No Comments on What Causes the Smell of New & Old Books? | Compound Interest

What Causes the Smell of New & Old Books? | Compound Interest is a concise info graphic about the volatile organic compounds that make old and new books smell the way they do.

I still think this is an unexplored marketing angle, especially in a world where print book publishers are terrified that print book consumption is on the decrease.  The food and make-up industries, among others, already use scent to make their products more appealing.  Why not engineer books, through specialized paper and ink, with specific smells designed to attract buyers?

Library Archives

Library Archives published on No Comments on Library Archives

Did you know that Libraries have collections of truly interesting and rare materials?  That these libraries often digitize and create online collections accessible to anyone?  That because of library websites/catalogs and their interaction with search engines most of this material is impossible to simply stumble upon?  Allow me to help you trip, with a selection of awesome digitized archives.

Not everyone can be a library however, the Barry Lawrence Ruderman Antique Maps Inc. has some fabulous antiquities and curious illustrations to peruse.  Some of them may even be affordable to some people.  And we can never forget the, ever more fabulous, Internet Archive.

The Fantastic in Art and Fiction

The Fantastic in Art and Fiction published on No Comments on The Fantastic in Art and Fiction

Cornell University Library’s Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections:  The Fantastic in Art and Fiction is a gorgeous and curious assortment of images and illustrated book pages having to do with Demons, Death, Magic, and all things fantastic.

Yes, something like a second hand item from the GReader starred list.  Though, it gives me an idea.

Our lives with books

Our lives with books published on 2 Comments on Our lives with books

I am finally back in the saddle of keeping up with my fellow library schmucks and I’ve scrolled through enough news items for the ‘e-books not print books,’ ‘death of libraries in face of digital materials,’ ‘no one has personal libraries anymore’ chants to finally give me a headache. I understand it’s posh and edgy to make such sweeping pronouncements but it’s only done to get a rise.  I mean, isn’t it?  You all don’t really believe that digital literature will replace all things print?


Lo and behold, my personal library.  I weed it often but it never decreases appreciably in size.  And you know what?  My collection of digital literature, some duplicating but most unique, is probably growing to be just as big.  Arguments abound from people who rose to the bait of the digital over physical headlines generally go like this:

PRO Digi:

  • multiple books accessed through one light weight and portable device
  • less storage space
  • fits into already increasingly digital world

PRO Print:

  • art books and often comics are not made for digital interface
  • like the feel and smell of books
  • not everything is duplicated, therefor how can print be replaced

I find I use print and digital books in different ways.  I used to keep list of books I wanted to read but didn’t have the time right now, you know, the ones libraries don’t reliably carry.  Now I buy the e-book because, although it is a purchase, it seems like less of a commitment.  It doesn’t take space in my home and when I am done with it, deleting it will feel a whole lot less of a waste than trying to donate a print copy in a responsible way.  E-books equal easy to dispose equals somehow easier to buy.  I buy print books when I know I will want to revisit the thing many many times, when I know I will want to lend it to a friend.  A lot of my print collection is picture heavy, harkening back to a standard print pro.  Increasingly my print collection houses several indie publications, not only rare for their small printing, but because the indie comic and zine making community is still very hands on.

People who cultivate personal libraries will probably just add digital material to their print collecting.  Libraries are a multimedia experience after all.  People who bought the best seller, or the book their friend recommended, to read and then discard, or sit on an ignored shelf in the family room, will probably move their habits to digital if inclined in that direction.  My point:  there is no either or decision to be made, and each circumstance will be different for each consumer.  If we’re talking about publishers making calls to best sell/market their material, maybe format on demand will be the fashion, where the consumer can choose what format they would like at checkout.

Finally, I buy print because when the big electromagnetic bombs go off and plunge our world back into the middle ages, I am going to have the most kickin’ access to entertainment all in my spare room.

Marianne Kirby

Marianne Kirby published on No Comments on Marianne Kirby

Hello, I was jumping around on the internets and read this fabulous ‘fat acceptance’ article by Marianne Kirby at xoJane.  I quote ‘fat acceptance’ ’cause I never heard of such a movement before.  I just thought it was about liking yourself in opposition to everything that people say to you.  But fat is regarded crazy ill in this country, so I’m glad there are people out there like Marianne Kirby to write about it in a touching, elegant, and witty fashion.  I am going to go read her book and think about how I would really love to know her better.  She seems awesome!  She does NaNoWriMo!

Who is John Galt?

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As I write the topic line for this post I am thinking of my mother and her coffee mug and mouse-pad that say just that:  ‘Who is John Galt?’ – the disillusioned anthem of the independent hard-worker in Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged.  Mom gave the book to me to read when I was 15 and I read like a demon through every class break and into the early morning.  But why talk about it now?  I just came across an article in The Spokesman-Review : Bill requires all Idaho kids to read ‘Atlas Shrugged.’

Now, the perpetrator of the bill is painting it as a lesson to the board of education regarding other rules and repeals.  He isn’t really going to follow through, but the article brings up popular opinion on the book that I wanted to ponder.

“The 1957 novel has been embraced by libertarians and the tea party movement, in part for its opposition to “statism” and embrace of capitalism, as Rand expressed her philosophy of “objectivism,” focusing on “the morality of rational self-interest.” In recent years, the novel has been touted by conservative commentators including Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck.”

It’s been a while since I’ve read it and perhaps my 15 year old mind was being dazzled by themes in the book that it wanted to see, not the themes that everyone else was seeing.  Honestly, I don’t quite get conservative adopting of the book.  Maybe it’s my 33 year old mind not really understanding politics outside of seeing how they’re practiced.  But here goes, here’s some pondering:

I’ll admit that Ayn Rand pitches a hard line in Atlas Shrugged and that all of her hard lines in all of the books I’ve read of her’s have glowed with capitalism.  Though capitalism, to me, has always been a non-partisan, non-denominational love.  In fact, economic systems are not political systems, no matter how much they are confused.

Rand’s “morality of rational self-interest” seemed a meaner, seedier quest for human perfection and self reliance along the lines of Louisa May Alcott’s Transcendentalism.  Though where Alcott may suffer the public because it is embiggening, Rand leaves the public because they are insufferable.  The public here are the masses of fictional devices who rely and profit completely on another’s talent, success, and drive.  These devices may or may not reflect actual persons.

What I got from Atlas Shrugged is that a person’s utmost responsibility is to himself, and that, whether admitted or no, everyone functions in their own self-interest.  No action is without selfishness.  This self-interest must be balanced to the needs of the society one chooses to function within.  It’s almost anarchic when you consider that the ultimate self-responsibility exhibited in the book is leaving/disappearing from/abandoning the society that doesn’t blend with one’s own ideals and needs.  This is why I never considered Ayn Rand’s writings to have anything to do with politics and why I wonder at their adoption by conservative groups.  Don’t political parties need government?  Isn’t anarchism about having none?

Oh, but you may say they are trying to change government for the better in line with “rational self interest.”  Changing the society you live in admits to loving/needing it the way it is as well.  It is supporting the structure put in place by those who oppose you.  Consider, when you cannot win an argument the energy you put into arguing is wasted.  You cannot argue someone out of their beliefs.  You can leave them be and go do something productive with your time and money.

Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong

Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong published on No Comments on Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong


I’ve talked about Faith Erin Hicks before when I raved over her comic Friends with Boys.  She’s got a new one online now as a collaboration with Prudence Shen, author of Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong.  You can read the webcomic as it airs by going to Page 001 | Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong.

I am crazy excited about this.  And, and, and,

If you are thinking about it, everyone else is too

If you are thinking about it, everyone else is too published on No Comments on If you are thinking about it, everyone else is too

Have you ever noticed the hive-mind?  You know, when you were just talking about some celebrity who’d been out of the news or some fictional character and suddenly the same name is mentioned on a talk show.  When five different movies are released based on the same premise of a long dead volcano bringing catastrophe to the country as we know it.  When your friends have just been saying that you should consider having a book made of your comics and then you read a news article about Print On Demand: Major Announcement Could Change How You Buy Books.

So instead of hiring a printing service where you are restricted to a batch no smaller than 50 at the cost of $200, there will be machines that you can take your print ready PDF to, or select a book from a list of available titles, and the machine will make a book for you.  This is some cool news.  I imagine it will be much easier than trying to exacto and glue bind your pages!

Smelling books

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Allow me to preface this little trip to information you most likely have no use for with an explanation of how it came about.  Theseus by Jake Wyatt swaggered into my feed reader for free comics day (it’s been a while I know) and I had to follow it to The Anthology Project where it was included in volume 2.  While there, hitting the ‘add to cart’ button, I felt compelled to add volume 1 as well and possess both.  I highly recommend these books, they are beautiful and chock full of fabulous talent.  The books arrived a few days ago and while I was thumbing through volume 1 I noticed that it smelled amazing.  Now I’m not a book sniffer normally.  I appreciate pleasant inky/papery smells that make it to my nose, while reading, drawing, and whatnot, but I’ve never sought them out.  I work in a library – believe me, the smells that end up on the books I most come to contact with are not the kind I want any where near my face.  This is why volume 1’s scent took me by surprise and why I then proceeded to smell every book in my to-read stack.  Volume 1 of the Anthology Project was definitely the best smelling one.  Volume 2 couldn’t even stand up to it.  I began wondering if paper, in the book printing industry, was marketed with any reference to smell.  This is how it began.

I can’t say I was really surprised to find a whole host of people talking about their love for the smell of the printed book.  Many people have asked the question:  why do books smell in the particular way that they smell?  The answer varies from book to book and printing process to printing process.  For old books, decay of the organic components, especially the lignin (related to vanillin) creates a sweet musky scent many have fallen in love with.  That is, of course, if the book hasn’t molded or mildewed or been in a house with a smoker or a cat.

I was surprised to find that part of the great e-book debate, among consumers at least, was directed towards the fact that e-books didn’t smell like books.  This brings us to book perfumes.  I’ve run into them before.  Specifically, I’d run into CB I Hate Perfume‘s In the Library before.  New Book Smell from Smell of Books seems created specifically for scenting your e-reader.  Other scents are available:  Classic Musty Smell, Scent of Sensibility, Eau You have Cats, and Crunchy Bacon Scent.  Steidl‘s Paper Passion, is by far the poshest of all bookish scents and made quite a few waves when it was created.

However, book perfumes weren’t going to answer my question about the book printing industry’s awareness or use of scent.  I have to admit, I have only searched enough to get a larger picture of the components of a new book’s smell.  I would not term my search exhaustive.  It was more of a lark, really.  I’m not even sure if I’ve managed or can answer my question. Here is what I found.

Paper itself doesn’t seem to be marketed in regards to smell at all, but their are plenty of reasons why the smell of any paper would vary.  First is most likely the type of wood used in making the paper.  There are a handful of pulpwoods (that is, woods often used in making paper):   acacia, aspen, birch, eucalyptus, maple, pacific albus, pine, and spruce.   Balsam fir has been a large supplier of pulpwood for paper in U.S. and aspen is heavily used in Canada.

Canada, thanks to the Swedish Forest Industries Facts and Figures 2010 (, is one of the world’s largest exporters of pulp and paper.  So aspen woodpulp is most likely found in much of the paper floating around the world. But paper makers are pretty crafty when it comes to getting raw materials.  Pulp and chips from construction byproduct, recycling, forest thinning, and fire damage can all be present in paper woodpulp.

Of course, after the tree is chosen and felled there are a variety of ways to pulp it.  High quality papers are most often chemically pulped – a process that removes the lignin from the wood fiber.  After this the fibers are bleached.  Without as much lignin content, I am guessing that our industrial aged paper books are not going to smell the same as those faintly vanilla antiquarian books.  By the by, chemical pulping is why paper mills often smell like rotten eggs – a sulfur like gas is created as a byproduct.

But then, the paper itself is only part of what makes a new book smell.  There is ink as well, and, as I am a long time collector of pens and user of paints and pigments, I am very familiar with how varieties of ink smell very differently from each other. I found a few mentions of ink that were specifically marketed with scent in mind.  Most of these, or I should say all of these, were devoted to children’s books.  I found smells of rose and citrus first and then I found Smellessence books for children.  Smellessence is creating characters and stories with the intention of weaving together the smell of the story into a child’s reading experience.  This is where my information trip ends.

Basically, I don’t think there is any special reason why Volume 1 of the Anthology project smells so good.  It is a combination of ingredients and timing that sometimes makes for a fantastic olfactory experience in a book.  I did learn a whole lot more about an industry I’ve taken for granted.  Verdict:  learning done for now.

Mentioned in the search:

  1. US Forest Service
  2. Wikipedia
  3. Swedish Forest Industry


More about White Trash Cooking

More about White Trash Cooking published on No Comments on More about White Trash Cooking

I said I would probably talk some more about White Trash Cooking by Ernest Matthew Mickler and now I’m gonna.  Here is the LEETTA I was talking about before.  Some time ago I was contacted by another LeEtta who was researching the origins of the name.  You know, there aren’t many of us, but there are enough to wonder where the name came from (I was named after my Great Grandmother, whom I never knew).

Anyway, White Trash Cooking by Ernest Matthew Mickler has more to recommend itself than just another LEETTA.  And if you know anything about the populating of the Appalachias then you’ll recognize the blend of truly southern and something Scottish in the recipes.  A few that I want to try right off:  Peggy’s Pig Eggs, Butts’ Gator Tail (though I have no idea where I’d get my hands on one), and Dirty Rice.

White Trash Cooking was republished for a 25 year anniversary printing, which is good because the out of print copy seems to have been in demand.  Amazon’s got a healthy preview available for you to peruse – that’s what the links are for.

In-Library eBook Lending Program Expands to 1,000 Libraries | Internet Archive Blogs

In-Library eBook Lending Program Expands to 1,000 Libraries | Internet Archive Blogs published on No Comments on In-Library eBook Lending Program Expands to 1,000 Libraries | Internet Archive Blogs

The internet archive finally did it – or did it while I wasn’t looking.  If you are not aware of the internet archive then I suggest checking it out.  There are tons of public domain books, recordings, and videos there as well as the way-back machine.  Ever wonder what a website used to look like years ago?  The way-back machine has got you covered.  Well, as long as the images still exist – but the code is saved.

Anyway, e-books aren’t as easy for libraries as you might think and there haven’t been many lending platforms that make library lending possible and easy with e-books.  This one is awesome and promising:  In-Library eBook Lending Program Expands to 1,000 Libraries | Internet Archive Blogs.

The Sketchbook Project 2013

The Sketchbook Project 2013 published on No Comments on The Sketchbook Project 2013

The Sketchbook Project 2013 is the most fabulous thing I have read about all year, maybe longer.  A library in Brooklyn has a collection of artists sketchbooks.  You can buy one of their specially made sketchbooks, fill it up, and they will keep it and tend it in true library tradition.  It may even go on a gallery trip across the country.  I finally have a terrible and driving reason to go to New York.  I must see the sketchbooks.  An article in the New York Times talks a little more about it.

Oleander and Mint

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Back in my first Indie Comics Etsy haul I also ordered Oleander & Mint.  I had gone out in search of this after meeting the writer through my husband, and it deserves a post separate from the haul.

It reminds me of Faulkner, or more specifically of As I lay Dying.  It is filled with beautiful desolate characters and an almost stream of consciousness narrative, and contrasted with lovely, graphic, and stylized illustrations.  I very heartily recommend it.

The web site is fabulous as well.  It will tempt you into spending oodles of time there.  Buy the book at the Oleander & Mint Etsy Shop.

HINABN: 4th Dimension Entertainment

HINABN: 4th Dimension Entertainment published on No Comments on HINABN: 4th Dimension Entertainment


Ok, so you know how I mentioned that Hanna is Not a Boys Name was awesome and then disappeared and then I found it for sale.  Well, did you get the message?  HINABN volume 1 is for sale!  Go buy it you dummies!  Go make it the first link that shows up in that darn google search!  Go:  4th Dimension Entertainment :: Product Details.

10/19/2012 – link correction

4/7/2014 – another link correction:


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