Reading marathons on BookTube

In the new episode of Biblio Banter podcast Natalia is interviewing a BookTuber Faye from FayesParallelStories! Are you ready to read for 24 hours straight? How about 48? Or a month of reading Victorian novels with numerous strangers on the Internet? BookTube offers these and much more.

One would wonder what rules are there to join a marathon. In our episode we try to make a list of what you need to know about reading marathons, or readathons. Faye, a book blogger and our guest specialist on all things BookTube, will tell us about different organisation strategies, definitions of readathons, rules that are made to be broken and advantages of book marathons for readers.

Listen to us on Apple, Spotify, or any other platform of your choice! We also have Instagram where you can leave you comments, or come by our Twitter account to discuss a book or two. We would love to hear from you.

What Is a Book? Star Trek Edition, Part 3

Biblio Banter

The Doctor working on his holonovel.

Are holonovels books? In our final Star Trek-themed episode, we discuss holonovels, the creative process, and briefly touch on copyright and AI authorship. “Author, Author,” which is Season 7, Episode 20 of Star Trek Voyager, is our inspiration. The Doctor, or Emergency Medical Hologram (EMH), writes a holonovel about his experience on Voyager. His work is published before he can finish editing (the crew is unhappy with how they are portrayed in the narrative and ask the Doctor to make changes), and he must go to court against the publishers in order to recall publication. Don’t worry, Tuvok helps to win the trial.

Listen here to learn our verdict on whether or not a holonovel is a book and play along with our version of Kiss, Marry, Kill – Take to Risa, Trapped in the Delta Quadrant, Out the Airlock!

Images taken from:…

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What Is a Book? Star Trek Edition, Part 3

The Doctor working on his holonovel.

Are holonovels books? In our final Star Trek-themed episode, we discuss holonovels, the creative process, and briefly touch on copyright and AI authorship. “Author, Author,” which is Season 7, Episode 20 of Star Trek Voyager, is our inspiration. The Doctor, or Emergency Medical Hologram (EMH), writes a holonovel about his experience on Voyager. His work is published before he can finish editing (the crew is unhappy with how they are portrayed in the narrative and ask the Doctor to make changes), and he must go to court against the publishers in order to recall publication. Don’t worry, Tuvok helps to win the trial.

Listen here to learn our verdict on whether or not a holonovel is a book and play along with our version of Kiss, Marry, Kill – Take to Risa, Trapped in the Delta Quadrant, Out the Airlock!

Images taken from:;;

What is a Book? Star Trek Edition, Part 2

Covid-19 have you feeling like you’re trapped in a Vegas casino? It could be aliens.

We take a closer look at one storyline using Leslie Howsam’s four-point definition of the book in Part 2 of our Star Trek-themed episodes. In “The Royale” (Season 2, Episode 12 of Next Generation), the Enterprise investigates a planet after finding debris from a NASA shuttle and three crew members enter the plot of a second-rate novel. The sad history of astronaut Colonel Richie surfaces along with his diary and a copy of Hotel Royale, which the crew uses to escape from this weird world of alien atonement. Bookish elements abound in this episode! Listen to our discussion and play along with our game of Star Trek Mad Libs!

“‘It was a dark and stormy night…’ Not a promising beginning.”
“It may get better.”

Picard and Troi, reading Hotel Royale

For further reading, look at:

Howsam, Leslie. “The Study of Book History.” Cambridge Companion to the History of the Book, ed. Leslie Howsam, 2015.

Image sources:

What is a Book? Star Trek Edition!

Captain Picard holding one of his prized books in Next Generation

This episode launches a series of discussions that allow us to embrace our love of Star Trek. We boldly go where other book historians have gone before and tackle “the future of the book.” Spoiler alert: even in the twenty-fourth century, the printed book is still not dead!

Much like the twenty-first century, the book takes many forms in the future envisioned by Star Trek creators: audio, digital, print, and holographic. Form serves function and, possibly, genre. (Don’t want the rest of the station to know you’re reading Vulcan Love Slave!)

You can listen to the episode here. Is Laura a Changeling? Because she DOMINATES our trivia game. (An attempt at a Dominion joke.) Play along and test your Next Generation knowledge!

Our upcoming discussions will focus on The Royale from The Next Generation Season 2, Episode 12 and Worst Case Scenario from Voyager Season 3, Episode 25. We will also be exploring Star Trek books (i.e. books inspired by the franchise).

Intertextuality of the future? Captain Janeway exchanges physical books with her fictional friend from the holodeck program Fair Haven in Voyager.

Episode 11: Font or Digital Humanities – special edition

(c) geralt from Pixabay

In the new special episode of Biblio Banter Natalia interviews Annika, Tim and Anton about their studies in Digital Humanities. Together they try to define Digital Humanities and its place in the larger picture of the filed of study, revisit game Font or Cheese (see episode 4: Tittle*ating Typography) and discuss some good books.

DH practitioners experiment in the area “born of the encounter between traditional humanities and computational methods.”

Why the Digital Humanities Matter by Mark Bowles

Here are some useful links

(c) Pexels from Pixabay

Digital Humanities at the University of Stuttgart
Digital Humanities – Leiden University
Digital Humanities Quarterly
The game we played in this episode Cheese or Font

Listen to the episode on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts and
Leave your comments here or on our Twitter @BanterBiblio

Episode 10: Bookish Places

In 1822, when Thomas Frognall Dibdin’s account of George John Earl Spencer’s mansion (castle?) was published, he wrote:

…sofas, chairs, tables, of every commodious form, are of course liberally scattered throughout the room. The bay-window looks into the pleasure-garden, or rather into a luxuriant shrubbery; where both serpentine and straight walks invite to a ramble among larches elms and oaks…Upon the whole, if must be confessed that this room, both within and from without, has a character peculiarly BOOKISH – and such as we might suppose to belong to a well-endowed monastery.

– from Thomas Frognall Dibdin, Aedes Althorpianae: or An Account of the Mansion, Books, and Pictures, At Althorp; The Residence of George John Earl Spencer, K.G. to which is added A Supplement to the Bibliotheca Spenceriana (London: Shakespeare Press, 1822), I, 20-31).

Thankfully, in order to be bookish, a place doesn’t have to resemble a “well-endowed monastery”, in fact, private libraries and book collecting (bibliomania, in fact) became quite the rage in the late 1800s – and the propensity for all the trappings of the “bookish” has continued into our times. In today’s episode of Biblio Banter we discuss some of our favorite bookish places, and play “Would You Rather…” from the places noted in the advertising pamphlet for the Atlas Obscura book Atlas Obscura: An Explorer’s Guide to the World’s Hidden Wonders.

Das Kriminal-Haus in Hillesheim, Germany is home to roughly 30,000 detective novels.

We began our game, and Ellen had the choice of the Beverly Cleary Sculpture Garden or the Franz Kafka Museum. Then, Natalia had to choose between Gould’s Book Arcade and El Ataneo Grand Splendid. Laura made the tough decision between The Mount and the World’s Largest Book at Kuthodow Pagoda, while Ellen shared her visit to see the World’s Largest Turban at Bagore Ki Haveli in Udaipur, India, and we had a brief discussion of the world’s largest codex, known as Codex Gigas. Then we discussed anthropodermic bibliopegy, and Ellen chose between the Boston Athenaeum Skin Book and the Wooden Books of Padova University. Natalia was enchanted by the idea of H.P. Lovecraft’s Grave over Author’s Ridge, and Laura was excited about the idea of visiting The Libraries of Chinguetti but also intrigued by The Secret Room at M.S. Rau Antiques. Finally, Natalia was more impressed by The Raven Room than Stephen King’s House. As a final note, if you would like to explore other occurrences of anthropodermic bibliopegy there are copies of the French constitution bound in the skin of the opposition (Museum Carnavalet in Paris) and six known copies of the appropriately bound 1538 Dance of Death, with two on display at the John Hay Library in Providence, Rhode Island.

1619 Project – New York Times

Baltimore: The City that Reads

Laura feeling somber at Poe’s “original” grave

H.L. Mencken

Wonderful article in The Paris Review about coming to terms with H.L. Mencken’s bigotry.

Enoch Pratt Free Library

History of the Mencken collection

Walters Art Museum

Explore the Walters manuscript collection

Baltimore Museum of Industry

If you want to buy some books, check out Atomic Books, “Literary Finds for Mutated Minds”, where you can also buy a signed DVD of John Waters’ movie Polyester, among other curiosities. Unfortunately, due to many issues, they no longer ship internationally, but if you want something special from them, you can email them directly.

For rare and used books, check out Kelmscott Bookshop.

Shakespeare and Co., Paris

A charismatic bench next to Shakespeare and Co. book store

A little bit about the Tumbleweeds.

A short article on the Paris Literary Prize. Although the intention was to issue the prize every two years, it was discontinued after the second award.

Shakespeare und So (Mainz, Germany)

Stadt Hillesheim (auf Deutsch)

A bit about Hillesheim in English

Jacques Berndorf, crime writer.

Ralf Kramp, crime writer.

Kriminal Haus


Tatort: cheesy German C.S.I. type show

Erin wasn’t here for this episode, but her Bookish Place would be along the Seine in Paris, where the Bouquinistes sell used books.

Episode 9: On Student Journals; or, A Tale of Humanities and Funding

In the new episode of Biblio Banter, Ellen interviews Laura and Natalia about the student journal, Satura, they started in the beginning of 2018. A lot of bragging and (bitter)sweet memories ensue.

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

Want to take a closer look at this student-made publication? No problem. Here you can download Volume 1 (2018) of Satura from the University of Münster’s website for free!

Listen to the podcast on Spotify, iTunes, and

What are your experiences with peer-reviewed or student journals? Have you applied to or been published in a digital journal of any kind? Share your publication stories with us! Comment here or on our Twitter page.

We are looking forward to your feedback!

Hot off the press! Issues of Satura wait to be picked up by student contributors and staff.

Ad Astra: The Nebulas and The Hugos

All of us science-fiction readers have heard multiple times that this or that author won the Nebula Award or the Hugo Award, or even both of them! But what processes lie behind the stickers and blurbs?

Image courtesy of ThorstenF

This morning a bookstagrammer asked me (well, not just me, it was a general post with a question that I couldn’t ignore) about the genre I turn to for comfort. This is a common question and you see these at last once a week in different profiles on social media. The answer sprung to my head immediately: science-fiction. Being my over-thinking self, I wondered ‘Why?’. Well, as Freud would say, it all comes from childhood, so I love sci-fi mainly because that was the first genre I was introduced to as a kid. My father is an avid science-fiction reader, so our home was always full of classic sci-fi novels. For me, reading about space exploration, aliens, other planets, spaceships, and the (post-)human future of our race will always be associated with the most comfortable and secure time of my life. Funny enough, I learned the words the Hugo and the Nebula way before I knew what these awards actually were (or that they were awards in the first place, haha). It just seemed so natural that my favourite Robert Heinlein novels have all these words on the cover.

In Episode 3 of our podcast we interviewed Dr Simon Rosenberg about the Women’s Prize for Fiction. It made me think about the voting processes and decision-making when it comes to books in general and the fantasy genre in particular. In this blog post I would like to have a closer look at two most famous science-fiction and fantasy awards: the Nebulas and the Hugos. Let’s take a look at the structure of the awards and their traditions.

The Nebula Awards

Every spring somewhere in the States a group of science-fiction writers and critics get together to announce and celebrate this year’s best works of the genre. Established in 1965, The Nebula Awards® is given to the best novel, novella, novelette, short story, and script.

Who presents the nominees and votes for the winner?

The members of Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, Inc. (further mentioned as SFWA because the name is just too long). BUT if you don’t know anybody who happens to be an active member of the SFWA, you can still try to get their attention:

“Members and non-members alike are encouraged to offer their eligible works for consideration for the Nebula, Norton, and Bradbury Awards by making them available on the Nebula Awards: Fiction area on the discussion forum.” or email it to it to the Nebula Awards Commissioner at

Nebula Rules

The SFWA President chooses a Nebula Awards Commissioner, who oversees and administers the Award (and also does everything that needs to be done for the Award to happen – sounds like a dream job to you? I wouldn’t be so sure). The above mentioned President also appoints a three person SFWA Awards Rules Committee (further abbreviated to SARC, for the same reason as SFWA). I still can’t really figure out what they do but apparently they look out for correctness of procedures.

The categories are as follows:

  • Short Story: less than 7,500 words;
  • Novelette: at least 7,500 words but less than 17,500 words;
  • Novella: at least 17,500 words but less than 40,000 words
  • Novel: 40,000 words or more.
  • Game Writing: An interactive or playable story-driven work which conveys narrative, character, or story background.

(The list of categories I took from the official website of the Awards. It’s their original punctuation)

Interesting fact is that if the SFWA come up with any new category, the award would also be considered Nebula Awards. This means every year we could have a new form of literary work added to already existing categories and this new category would also be part of the prestigious Nebula family.

The Nebula awards year begins January 31, and it ends consequently on December 31.

The nominees should be first published and made available to the readers in English, in the USA, during this calendar year (so, if your masterpiece of sci-fi or fantasy is gonna be published in the US at 23:59 on December, 31st, you can still make it!). Also, if you publish online, it counts as being published in the United States. All active members of the SFWA can nominate a work in the nomination period from December, 15th till January, 31st next year (as life shows, these dates can be very different still). Fun fact: nominations via paper ballot override nominations via online form (Can anyone explain me the reasoning behind that, please?)

If the nominee’s dates and print data look weird, well, it’s for the poor Nebula Awards Commissioner to sort it out. The same Commissioner later composes The Final Ballot. It includes the top six works in each category that receive the most nominations. The winner in each category is the work that received the most votes in the Final Ballot. At the the Nebula Conference Banquet they announce the winners. You can watch The Nebula Awards Ceremony here or simply find it on YouTube. If you are interested, the results for 2018 are available on the official website. Wow, they actually have lists of all the results and nominees starting from 1965! I looked at the titles for last year – they are gorgeous. I immediately wanted to pick up and read each and every one of them. Yes, to my shame I have to admit I haven’t read any, and might have heard only about couple of them.

The Nebula Awards are not exclusively bookish though. In addition to the standard book awards there is The Ray Bradbury Award for Outstanding Dramatic Presentation that is made for dramatic works such as motion pictures, television, Internet, radio, audio, and stage productions. In addition to the addition there is The Andre Norton Award for Outstanding Young Adult Science Fiction or Fantasy Book.

The Hugo Awards

The older book prize sibling of the Nebulas is the Hugo Awards, which began in 1953. This one is arranged and administered by the World Science Fiction Society (“WSFS” – oh look, another abbreviation). The WSFS is an “unincorporated literary society which sponsors the annual World Science Fiction Convention (“Worldcon”) and the Hugo Awards” ( ) . It is claimed to be the most prestigious award in the world of science-fiction.

Hugo Award logo

During the Worldcon the members of WSFS can vote for the best in fifteen categories:

  • Best Novel
  • Best Novella
  • Best Novelette
  • Best Short Story
  • Best Related Work
  • Best Graphic Story
  • Best Dramatic Presentation (Long Form)
  • Best Dramatic Presentation (Short Form)
  • Best Editor (Long Form)
  • Best Editor (Short Form)
  • Best Professional Artist
  • Best Semiprozine
  • Best Fanzine
  • Best Fancast
  • Best Fan Writer
  • Best Fan Artist

For the more detailed description of the categories go here.

So how do they do their thing?

The nomination period is from January till March; the members of the Worldcon can nominate works and people (up to five) from the last year. A shortlist is announced in April, in each category there can be no more than five finalists. Till the end of July the present members of Worldcon should find time to rate all nominees in a final ballot. The Hugo ceremony takes place during Worldcon. That is when the winners get their trophies.

Speaking of the trophies! Unlike The Nebulas website, the Hugos like to show off their trophies. Here you can find a gallery of all Hugos, and the article on the process of their creation. In 2019 the Worldcon was in August in Dublin, and it was charmingly called the Irish Worldcon.

The world of book prizes is dark and full of terrors. I am glad to be on the furthest possible receiving end of it – I would get the book with the prize emblem on the cover. I would know the book must be good, it went through a thorough quality control after all… right?

Here are the links to the official websites of the awards

Nebula Awards

The Hugo Awards

Worldcon official website


Image courtesy of TweSwe

Episode 8: Book Blurbs

“A masterpiece!


“The best podcast ever!”


In this episode we play the Book Game from Bookstr (not BookRiot, oops!) and discuss the history and usefulness of book blurbs. 

A blurb is, to quote Gelett Burgess, who invented the term in 1907, “a flamboyant advertisement” found on the front and back covers of books. Burgess later wrote the Burgess Unabridged: A New Dictionary of Words You Have Always Needed, available to curious readers on, where words like “blurb,” “wowze,” and “huzzlecoo” increase even the most robust vocabulary. Most of these words never really caught on, but “blurb” is the noticeable exception.

Example of the first sentence based on a blurb. You can hear many other talented examples in our podcast

Do we need blurbs? Do we like blurbs? And can blurbs help you make up a convincing first line of book that fools your friends?? Listen and find out.

Let us know your thoughts so we can keep the conversation going!

To read more about blurbs see Merriam Websters’ The Must-Read, Smash Hit Story of ‘Blurb’ and NPR’s Forget The Book, Have You Read This Irresistible Story On Blurbs?