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 Archive.org, 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.
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!
Last month Ellen and Laura presented at the annual conference of the Society for the History of Authorship, Reading & Publishing (SHARP) in Amherst, Massachusetts.
New England has a rich history, filled with authors, publishers, and printers, such as Benjamin Franklin, Emily Dickinson, Mark Twain, and Noah Webster. It is also a gorgeous part of the US and an area that has long been inhabited by Native Americans.
The northeast region’s Kwinitekw (Connecticut River) Valley sits at a crossroads of Indigenous nations and continues to be a central gathering place for Native American and Indigenous Studies scholars as well as for Native American and Indigenous leaders, artists, writers, and activists.
The conference theme was Indigeneity, Nationhood & Migrations of the Book. Amherst was an interesting place to host this topic, named as it is after a man who hoped to spread smallpox to the native inhabitants in 1763 through infected blankets. Both Laura and Ellen presented on topics related to indigeneity (Look out for our future blog posts about these topics!), but the three days of presentations touched on the significance of wampum belts, Japanese reading spaces, women printers, book of the month clubs, digital book piracy, and much, much more!
Inspired by the talks and the card game Super Frauen (English: Wonder Women), we play our own version: Women Who Make “Books”.
Listen below or on Spotify to hear what we have to say about out conference experience and learn about some super women. You can also find us on Anchor, Google Podcasts, and Radio Public.
Next year’s SHARP conference will be in Amsterdam (Yay!) and the theme is The Power of the Written Word. We’re already brainstorming…
In this episode we discuss the Harry Potter books, inspired the 20th Anniversary House Editions. These books are designed to reflect the styles of the four houses of magical Hogwarts.
In our discussion, we touch on Harry Potter ephemera, book collecting, the wonders of paratext, and the possibly predatory practices of publishers (alliteration!).
We’re so lucky to have Natalia (for many reasons), who grew up in Russia and was exposed to a different Harry Potter than native English-speakers Laura, Ellen, and Erin. She sheds light on the books’ tumultuous translations and adaptations into Russian.
On a lighter note, we also test our Harry Potter knowledge with Harry Potter Trivial Pursuit. Play along and see if you can out-Wizard us!
Drollery, the strange and fanciful marginal illustrations found in illuminated manuscripts, is the topic of our latest podcast. Fighting rabbits? Check. Hybrid creatures? Check. Faces coming out of, um, unexpected places? Check.
The word droll comes from the French drôle, meaning something humorous or funny. Drolleries were common appearances in margins from the mid-13th to 15th century; but although we have many examples of drolleries, we don’t always know what they were supposed to express to readers. Just what was the joke?
These clever images are not unlike today’s memes. Memes are jokes that are easy to understand now, but will make very little sense in a few centuries. (A meme encyclopedia may be in order?)
So, we decided to caption drolleries as though they were memes, with a bit of inspiration from the party game What Do You Meme and Classical Art Memes.
Other images we used in our game are:
You can listen to our discussion by following the link. And let us know your favorite droll images and, of course, your meme-like captions.
Get ready to match the stars…of our new book history podcast!
In the very first episode of Biblio Banter, Erin, Natalia, Ellen, and Laura talk about the big questions: Just what is book history? (Or is it book studies?) What is a book? And why is book smuggling so exciting?
We then fill in the blanks of Robert Darnton’s influential Communications Circuit in a game inspired by the classic (and wacky) 1970s game show Match Game.
Play along, and let us know if you matched any of our answers!