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: https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Recap/StarTrekVoyagerS7E18AuthorAuthor; https://intl.startrek.com/article/remembering-guest-star-joseph-campanella-1924-2018; https://intl.startrek.com/news/tuvok-was-voyagers-secret-weapon

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 5: (Re)Covering Rebecca Pop-Up Exhibit

From inside joke to temporary exhibition, in this episode Laura and Natalia interview graduate student Laura Schmitz-Justen about her project “(Re)Covering Rebecca: A Critical Look at the Cover Design History of Daphne Du Maurier’s Rebecca.” This 1938 classic novel has gone through dozens of reprints, adaptations, and covers, many of which are exhibited.

From left to right, a cover Schmitz-Justen finds problematic and one she favors.

The question naturally arises, what role do covers play in marketing books? How do they promote genre and attract (or repel) certain audiences? Listen to the discussion here. American, British, and German editions, as well as a few Rebecca objects, such as a CD from the musical adaptation and a mug, are among the items showcased and discussed. Stop by to check out the exhibit before December 2019!

Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster English Department Library Johannisstrasse 12-20 Second Floor (Ask at Reception)

Early cover, modern classic cover, 80th anniversary edition cover, and musical poster

For a closer look at what was mentioned…

Musical Adaptation

Vogue Article and Bookbub Blogpost on Netflix Film Adaptation

UK Publisher Virago: Virago’s 80th Anniversary Edition of Rebecca

Taking back the word, the meaning of virago

Sarah Waters’ cover designs by Virago

Bestsellers: A Very Short Introduction by John Sutherland

Episode 4: Tittle*ating Typography

*A tittle is the dot over a lower case i or j.

Does anyone care about or even notice typography? We do! In this episode, we discuss our favorite fonts, controversial typefaces, and how type choices affect us as consumers and readers.

Different usages of the typeface Bembo
Pieces of Type / Examples of Typefaces

Although we use the terms more or less synonymously, type is the individual, physical piece used in traditional printing; typeface refers to the design of a complete set of characters; and font describes the size or style (bold, italic, etc.) of the typeface. For the curious, here is a typographic glossary.

It all begins with a game of Cheese or Font. Listen as Erin mispronounces everything and we run out the clock! Follow the link to listen.

For further viewing/reading:

…An American Marriage!

Notice the blurbs and stickers on the covers? Fun fact: Oprah’s Book Club and the Women’s Prize for Fiction were both started in 1996.

Tayari Jones has won the 2019 Women’s Prize for Fiction for her novel An American Marriage. She took home £30,000 in prize money and a bronze cast of the 7.5 inch ‘Bessie’ figurine, designed and donated by artist Grizel Niven. The awards ceremony was live-streamed on the @WomensPrize Twitter feed on June 5th.

‘Bessie’. Photo by @WomensPrize.

Over 308 pages, Jones explores the impact of a wrongful incarceration on an American family in clean, elegant prose from multiple points-of-view. Here, the Women’s Prize group interviews Jones about her novel.

An American Marriage was a surprising winner for our book club, which had unanimously predicted that Ordinary People would take home the Bessie. Opinion was divided on who participants wanted to win, but the majority voted for Circe. However, Miller won the Women’s Prize for Fiction in 2012, and it was deemed unlikely that she would win the same prize twice.

138,131 users have rated An American Marriage on popular reader website Goodreads, giving it on average 3.98 out of 5 stars, and making it the most rated of the shortlisted novels. Circe received the highest average rating at 4.30 out of 5 stars. Check out the table below to see how the other shortlisted titles were rated (arranged in descending order by total ratings).

Episode 3: And the Winner Is…

Women’s Prize for Fiction 2019 Shortlisted Titles
Dr. Rosenberg and Biblio Banter team in their natural habitat aka library

Our first guest! Just around the corner, on June 5th, the 2019 winner of the Women’s Prize for Fiction will be announced. We gladly welcome Dr. Simon Rosenberg to the podcast for a discussion about this and other book prizes.

Prizes equal publicity…and controversy. In this episode, Dr. Rosenberg shares his thoughts on the impact, value, and future of book prizes. We also make our predictions for who will win the 2019 Women’s Prize for Fiction. And of course there’s a game: it’s a take on “two lies, one truth” using made-up titles and real winners from The Bookseller‘s Diagram Prize for the Oddest Book Title of the Year. Play along with Dr. Rosenberg and see if you can guess which titles belong to published books!

To listen to the podcast, follow this link.

For further reading (and because you don’t believe that Too Naked for the Nazis is a real book), click the links below:

Women’s Prize for Fiction

Too Naked For Nazis Wins Prize for Oddest Book Title (2016)

The Economy of Prestige by James F. English

Edward St Aubyn’s Lost for Words – some prize-y fiction for a cozy evening with a cup of tea and a teaspoon of sarcasm.