Bookish Diversions: Blockchain Books
Web3 for Publishing, Twitter Snark, Extremely Short Fiction, Curiosity, Cats, More
¶ If you’re looking for a well-paying career, author is probably low on the list. Yes, there are some authors whose books sell extraordinarily well. They are well compensated as a result. But most authors sell few copies, and books are an adjunct to their career or maybe a side hustle. But what if you could reimagine the business model so those modest sales produced more dollars for the authors? Could web3 technology help out? Some believe so and are working on it. I’m not convinced, but it’s fun to see people experiment with different models.
¶ Where ideas go to die amid snark, crosstalk, and eye rolls. Yes, I’m talking about Twitter. Personally, I love the platform. I learn a ton on Twitter, and find connecting with folks on shared interests—however fleetingly—worthwhile. Still, some users come mostly to snipe and snarl, and that’s just as true for Book Twitter as any other subculture on the site.
¶ “Get in fast, get out faster, and make every word pop.” Hemingway once wrote a short story with just six words: “For sale: baby shoes, never used.” Talking about “micro,” “flash,” or “sudden” fiction, Gary Lippmann offers a list of books featuring extremely short fiction.
¶ Calibrating the heart.
Books are a way of learning to feel more acutely.
—Marguerite Yourcenar, “Marguerite Yourcenar, The Art of Fiction No. 103”
¶ Recognizing the formative power of fiction. “We are all developing our view of the world in some way, whether from reading books, watching movies, streaming shows, or listening to music or podcasts. The ideas we read and listen to stay with us for days. They come up in our dinner conversations and discussions on social media. They change us, for better or for worse.”
¶ The moral panic of nineteenth-century YA fiction. “The work of the teacher and preacher is made null and void by the Dime Novel.”
¶ More than words. “Just the way Louis Armstrong took the trumpet and turned it inside out from the way people played European classical music,” says Henry Louis Gates Jr., African Americans took English and “reinvented it, to make it reflect their sensibilities and to make it mirror their cultural selves.” Gates is now editing a comprehensive dictionary of black English to document its contributions to language.
¶ This idea is brilliant. Imagine being able to take a picture of your books on the shelf and instantly cataloging them. Someone needs to get working on this.
¶ The engine of discovery.
What I term “curiosity” could also be called the spirit of inquiry. At the most basic level, scholars are people who want to know, and to know as much as possible and at as great a depth as possible. Curiosity is the intellectual itch that research scratches. As with physical itches, however, the more one scratches, the greater the itch grows. Curiosity, then, is the sense of unease, distress, or simple wonderment that propels the process of research in the first place, and keeps the process going as new questions emerge from the ones first raised. It is such intellectual curiosity, above all, that asks concerning any phenomenon the fundamental question why. Such a spirit of inquiry drives the best and most original scholarship.
—Luke Timothy Johnson, The Mind in Another Place
¶ I hope curiosity didn’t kill this one: Lo these many years ago, a cat dipped his paws in the inkwell and left a record on the page. Along with this amusing image, here’s the backstory on how the page was discovered.
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