Saturday, February 25, 2012

Many a man would rather you heard his story than granted his request. --Lord Chesterfield

Philip Dormer Stanhope, 4th Earl of Chesterfield PC KG (22 September 1694 – 24 March 1773) was a British statesman and man of letters.
WhigLord Stanhope, as he was known until his father's death in 1726, was born in London. After being educated at Trinity Hall, Cambridge,[1]he went on the Grand Tour of the continent. The death of Anne and the accession of George I opened up a career for him and brought him back to England. His relative James Stanhope, the king's favourite minister, procured for him the place of gentleman of the bedchamber to the Prince of Wales.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Book News from Sheppard's Newsletter No. 251

Thanks to Sheppard's Confidential, as usual, for their diligent coverage of the book world.

Billy Wright plunked down dime after dime for comic books while growing up in the late 1930s and early 1940s, caring for the collection he started around the age of 9 until his death more than half a century later. On Wednesday, most of that collection sold for a whopping $3.5 million. Wright's 345 comics, nearly all of which were published from 1936 through 1941, included many of the most prized issues ever, including Detective Comics No. 27, which features the debut of Batman, and Action Comics No. 1, in which Superman first appears. Read more

International: Amazon removes 4,000 e-books removed more than 4,000 e-books from its site this week after it tried and failed to get them more cheaply, a muscle-flexing move that is likely to have significant repercussions for the digital book market. Amazon is under pressure from Wall Street to improve its anaemic margins. At the same time, it is committed to selling e-books as cheaply as possible as a way to preserve the dominance of its Kindle devices.
Read more

UK: Minister refuses to investigate library closures
Campaigners fighting to save 50 per cent of Brent's libraries have learned that the secretary of state will not investigate the closures. Brent SOS (Save our Six) has announced that Jeremy Hunt has refused to look into the council's closure of six treasured libraries, despite receiving more than 10,000 submissions from the public. Read more

Nations oldest black bookstore fighting back against Amazon

"At a very young age, we were expected to have opinions, to have veneration for elders and to be well read," said Johnson, 27, a UC Berkeley doctoral student who is among the third generation to help run Marcus Books, the nation's oldest African American bookstore.

So it came as no surprise in December when Johnson took a stand on behalf of small businesses nationwide by launching a petition against retail giant

As part of a holiday shopping promotion, Amazon had offered customers a price break if they used a smart phone app to scan products' costs in brick-and-mortar stores and then bought them online instead. Although the promotion did not apply to books — Amazon said it was aimed at electronics sold in "major retail chain stores" — it infuriated booksellers long stressed by Internet competition.

Here are Jasmine Johnson's reasons for starting this petition:

I was so angry when I read about's Price Checker App promotion: the company actually paid shoppers to collect information on prices at local bricks-and-mortar shops and then shop at Amazon instead. In most places, Amazon doesn't pay any taxes and they don't contribute to local economies in nearly the same way that small businesses do.

In 1960 my grandparents opened Marcus Books, the nation's oldest independent African-American bookstore. Marcus Books is still here but it's a struggle. All around the country I see independent bookstores and other retailers fighting for survival in this tough economy. Amazon's Price Checker app goes beyond simple competition in a free marketplace. It represents an ugly race to the bottom that might provide short-term benefit for bargain hunters, but will lead to long-term pain for communities in the form of lost jobs and tax revenues.

If Amazon wants any credibility with consumers from here on out, they should pledge not to use these kinds of promotion techniques for the Price Checker app in the future and should apologize to small businesses.

Friday, February 17, 2012

The chief objection to new books is that they prevent us from reading the old ones. -- Joubert

Joseph Joubert (7 May 1754 in MontignacPérigord – 4 May 1824 in Paris) was a French moralist and essayist, remembered today largely for hisPensées (Thoughts), which was published posthumously.
From the age of fourteen Joubert attended a religious college in Toulouse, where he later taught until 1776. In 1778 he went to Paris where he metD'Alembert and Diderot, amongst others, and later became friends with a young writer and diplomatChateaubriand.
He alternated between living in Paris with his friends and life in the privacy of the countryside in Villeneuve-sur-Yonne. He was appointed inspector-general of universities under Napoleon.
Joubert published nothing during his lifetime, but he wrote a copious amount of letters and filled sheets of paper and small notebooks with thoughts about the nature of human existence, literature, and other topics, in a poignant, often aphoristic style. After his death his widow entrusted Chateaubriand with these notes, and in 1838, he published a selection entitled, Recueil des pensées de M. Joubert (Collected Thoughts of Mr. Joubert). More complete editions were to follow, as were collections of Joubert's correspondence.
Somewhat of the Epicurean school of philosophy, Joubert even valued his own frequent suffering of ill health, as he believed sickness gave subtlety to the soul.
Joubert's works have been translated into numerous languages. An English translation version was made by Paul Auster.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Walla Walla Rep. Walsh's floor speech on gay marriage goes viral

Sulu Strikes again! Thanks George Takei, for being a badass.

And thanks to Maureen Walsh for being one of the best politicians to come out of Walla Walla!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Plan developed to clean up highly radioactive Hanford spill

 06 Feb 2012 Hanford officials have settled on a plan to clean up what may be the most highly radioactive spill at the nuclear reservation. It depends on calling back into service the 47-year-old, oversized hot cell where the spill occurred to protect workers from the radioactive cesium and strontium that leaked through the hot cell to the soil below. Radioactivity in the contaminated soil, which is about 1,000 feet from the Columbia River, has been measured at 8,900 rad per hour. Direct exposure for a few minutes would be fatal, according to Washington Closure.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Book News from Sheppard's Newsletter No. 248

USA: Amazon Wants to Burn the Book Business.
'Subtlety is out. Bloomberg Businessweek's January 25th cover shows a book engulfed in flames. The book's title? 'Amazon Wants to Burn the Book Business.' A towering pile of books dominates the front page of Sunday's NYT Business Section. The pile starts well below the fold (print edition), breaks through the section header at the top of the page, and leans precariously. Books are starting to tumble off. 'The Bookstore's Last Stand,' reads the headline. Read more
[The Authors Guild article is headed 'Publishing's Ecosystem on the Brink: The Backstory' and is well worth reading.  It confirms the trade 'war' that now exists between Amazon and the big six US publishers and describes the current position.  What are your views? Do you perceive Amazon as a friend or foe? Ed.]

The number of shops selling new books has declined in most countries- and seems likely to do so because in today's trading times and conditions, the business model doesn't work.  Recently, the Booksellers Association reported that over the last six years the number of independent bookshops in the UK has been reduced by 384 - to 1,099.  The trend looks set to continue.  But in this week's news, the BA has disclosed that there are now 250 specialist charity bookshops and 8,000 others which 'also sell books'.  

  We think that these 'shops' have been, and are, a much greater threat to our side of the book trade - the majority of books sold are 'used' and not 'new'. So it is curious that these figures are being used in an attempt to bolster financial support for new bookshops.

  Against this background it is significant that the number of full and part-time book dealers has not declined at the same rate.  There are still some 1,800 known dealers in the UK - sure, many have left their 'high-street' shops but whenever a dealer closes his or her shop, it doesn't follow that there is one dealer less.  The national media often misses this point.  

In recent months, several items have appeared in the 'new book' trade press reporting that booksellers are also selling used books.  Nothing new in this but the frequency of 'news' items is now more noticeable. This week one of the UK's regular daily trade e-newsletters, not known for its interest in the used book trade, highlights a shop in Paris selling only second-hand comics.  Interest in comics certainly appears to be rising - for when rare editions are auctioned they fetch very high prices as we have reported in previous editions.  

UK: The Booksellers Association appeals to councils for help
The Booksellers Association, which represents 3,500 independent bookshops across the U.K., has written to almost 400 council chiefs urging them to do more to support their local high streets or risk seeing bookshops go out of business. The B.A. has called for more free parking in town centres and a reduction in red tape to help struggling businesses. It also argued that charity shops present 'unfair competition' to bookshops due to the valuable tax breaks they get. There are now more than 250 specialist charity bookshops in the UK, while a further 8,000 charity shops sell books as part of their ranges. Read more
France: BD Spirit, Paris
Tucked away from the throngs of tourists in Paris' Montmartre, there might very well be the greatest comics bookstore in the world. BD Spirit, its name an allusion to comic book legend Will Eisner's character, is a proud caretaker of the history of comics, or BDs (Bandes Dessinées) as the French call them. With an estimated stock of 50-80,000 comic books and magazines, many of them out-of-print collector's items, this is not your ordinary bookshop. Read more

International: The self-epublishing bubble
. . .There's another name for what happens when people start to make money out of speculation and hype: it's called a bubble. Like the dotcom bubble, the commercial real estate bubble, the subprime mortgage bubble, the credit bubble and the derivative trading bubble before it, the DIY epublishing bubble is inflating around us. Each of those other bubbles also saw, in their earliest stages, a great deal of fuss made over a 'new' phenomenon, which was then over-hyped and over-leveraged. But speculation, as we've learned at our peril, is a very dangerous foundation for any business. And when the epub bubble bursts, as all previous bubbles have done, the fall-out for publishing and writing may be even harder to repair than it is proving to be in the fields of mortgages, derivatives and personal debt. Because this bubble is based on cultural, not purely economic, grounds. Read more
[The decline may well accelerate when so many titles are found to have poor cover designs, poor typography, a lack of editing and no professional marketing. Ed.]

Find a job that you love and you'll never work a day in your life. --John P. Grier

1982 -- Erica Roe, a busty bookseller, streaks topless at Twickenham at the rugby international between England & Australia

, capturing headlines with her
40-inch bust during the height of the Falklands War.

   "I was supposed to be at work in my bookshop..."

    Her streak has been voted into the top (sic)
    100 Greatest Moments in Sports.

Officially our favorite bookseller.

From Wikipedia:

Erica Roe (born 1957), also known as the Twickenham Streaker, is remembered for a topless run across the pitch of Twickenham Stadium during an England vs. Australia rugby union match on 2 January 1982. It has been described by the BBC as "perhaps the most famous of all streaks". Roe, who later claimed to have been inspired by alcohol, ran onto the field during half time, exposing her 40-inch bosom. Roe and the friend who joined her streak were corralled by police officers on the field, one of whom covered Roe's chest with his helmet while leading her off the field.
While Roe was not the first or the last streaker at an athletic event, in 2007 The Independent of London declared that her "memorable" streak made her a suitable icon to represent all such streakers in their article on sports interruptions. The event prompted Manchester Confidential to dub her "the most famous British streaker".
Roe's continuing celebrity saw her appear on the nostalgic British TV programmes After They Were Famous (1999) and 80s Mania (2001).
She was working at that time in a bookstore in PetersfieldHampshire, but moved with her husband and children to Portugal to become an organic farmer of sweet potatoes.

To banish imperfection is to destroy expression, to check exertion, to paralyze vitality. - John Ruskin

John Ruskin (8 February 1819 – 20 January 1900) was the leading English art critic of the Victorian era, also an art patron, draughtsman, watercolourist, a prominent social thinker and philanthropist. He wrote on subjects ranging from geology to architecture, myth to ornithology, literature to education, and botany to political economy. His writing styles and literary forms were equally varied. Ruskin penned essays and treatises, poetry and lectures, travel guides and manuals, letters and even a fairy tale. The elaborate style that characterised his earliest writing on art was later superseded by a preference for plainer language designed to communicate his ideas more effectively. In all of his writing, he emphasised the connections between nature, art and society. He also made detailed sketches and paintings of rocks, plants, birds, landscapes, and architectural structures and ornamentation.
He was hugely influential in the latter half of the 19th century up to the First World War. After a period of relative decline, his reputation has steadily improved since the 1960s with the publication of numerous academic studies of his work. Today, his ideas and concerns are widely recognised as having anticipated interest in environmentalism, sustainability and craft.
Ruskin first came to widespread attention with the first volume of Modern Painters (1843), an extended essay in defence of the work of J. M. W. Turner in which he argued that the principal role of the artist is "truth to nature". From the 1850s he championed the Pre-Raphaelites who were influenced by his ideas. His work increasingly focused on social and political issues. Unto This Last (1860, 1862) marked the shift in emphasis. In 1869, Ruskin became the first Slade Professor of Fine Art at the University of Oxford, where he established the Ruskin School of Drawing. In 1871, he began his monthly "letters to the workmen and labourers of Great Britain", published under the title Fors Clavigera(1871–1884). In the course of this complex and deeply personal work, he developed the principles underlying his ideal society. As a result, he founded the Guild of St George, an organisation that endures today.