The Casual Optimist

Books, Design and Culture

Midweek Miscellany


The Forger — Tom McCarthy (whose novel Men in Space has finally been published by Vintage in the US) at Interview Magazine.

People in Business — An interview with Dennis Johnson, publisher of Melville House, at The Economist:

I think it’s very obvious to people that we care about the packaging of our books. I think people know that if we care about the outside of our books then we probably care about the inside of them, too. I recently read a survey that said 39% or 40% of people who bought books on Amazon looked at them in a bookstore first. They could know everything about the book online short of having seen it, but still the physical object had enough meaning to them to want to see it first. That resonates, happily, with the fact that Valerie [Merians] and I came into this not as publishers but as artists. The object means a lot to us.

Parallels — Authors Geoff Dyer (Zona) and John Jeremiah Sullivan (Pulphead) in conversation at Work in Progress.

And finally…

Britain’s Original Information Revolution — Adam Nicolson, author of The Gentry, on a collection of English books dating back to the 17th century:

 We may think we are in the middle of a communications revolution: Flickr, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Hulu, iTunes… But all of them are, in their ways, secondary phenomena. Some of them are image-based, post-literate, but none would work without the foundations of a much deeper communications revolution which swept across Europe 400 years ago.

The 17th century is when the Europeans started to write: letters, diaries, journals, notebooks, account books, commonplace books, business correspondence, pamphlets, posters, chapbooks, newspapers. It was the first communications revolution, which both spawned and reflected the most revolutionary century we have ever had.

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