Anthropodermic bibliopegy: the grotesque history of books bound in human skin

On the Under the Knife show, Dr Lindsey Fitzharris elucidates the weird history of "anthropodermic bibliopegy," the weird practice of binding books in human skin, including the doctor who bound case histories in the skins of his dead patients, and the murderer who asked to have his biography bound in his skin and presented to the lawman who caught him after his execution. Other common ways to procure human skins for the practice included grave-robbing (Andrea wrote about the Burke and Hare editions back in 2016). (Thanks, Allen) Read the rest

Gawker's new owners demand right to search journalists, ban encrypted email and institute dress code

After Deadspin's Laura Wagner published an incredible, brave, detailed look at how her new private equity masters -- Jim Spanfeller/Great Hill Partners -- were running Gawker now that they'd acquired it from Univision, the company (now called "G/O Media") struck back. Read the rest

An appreciation for Samuel Delany

Samuel R "Chip" Delany is a science fiction pioneer: a brilliant literary stylist with dazzling ideas who was one of the field's first openly queer writers, and one of the first Black writers accepted into the field. He is one of the fathers of afrofuturism. Read the rest

RIP, Linux Journal

25 years after its founding, eight years after its last print edition, and two years after a near-death experience that was averted at the last minute by a bailout from the VPN company Private Internet Access, Linux Journal has laid off all employees, has no operating funds, and only plans to have its website online for a few weeks, or "hopefully longer for archival purposes if we can make it happen." Read the rest

Elsevier: "It's illegal to Sci-Hub." Also Elsevier: "We link to Sci-Hub all the time."

Yesterday, I wrote about science publishing profiteer Elsevier's legal threats against Citationsy, in which the company claimed that the mere act of linking to Sci-Hub (an illegal open-access portal) was itself illegal. Read the rest

Crowdfunding a picture book about resisting surveillance

Murray Hunter writes, "I'm a digital rights activist in South Africa - I've written and illustrated a silly, subversive kid's book about the Big Data industry, and a squiggly, wiggly robot sent out to track and profile all the babies. It's not an 'eat your vegetables' kind of book: all I wanted to do was tell a story that could delight young kids (ages 3-5) while also inviting them to imagine for the first time a secret and hidden world of data collection. I don't think it's been done yet, and - well, why not? I've just launched a crowdfunding campaign to publish it in hardcover and thought it might pique the interest of a few happy mutants. Read the rest

Kickstarting "The Decline of Mall Civilization," a sequel to the long-out-of-print "Malls Across America" book

Michael Galinsky's 2011 photo-book "Malls Across America" went out of print quickly and now sells for upwards of $1000/copy; Galinsky is now kickstarting a sequel, The Decline of Mall Civilization, featuring 112 pages of images of American malls from 1989. Read the rest

Photos from MAKE's 2008 visit to MAD Magazine

Phil Torrone from Adafruit writes, "A million internet years ago in 2008 when I was Senior Editor at MAKE Magazine, Ladyada and I went to DC Comics to meet the MAD Magazine folks for a collaboration issue with MAKE and MAD, it was the Spy vs Spy issue, volume 16 cover by Sam Viviano. Spy vs. Spy is a wordless black and white comic strip that has been published in Mad magazine since 1961. It was created by Antonio Prohias, a Cuban national who fled to the United States in 1960 days before Fidel Castro took over the Cuban free press." Read the rest

MAD Magazine mostly shutting down after 67 years

Jedadiah Leland:

I just heard from a friend of mine who is in a Facebook group with a MAD writer that, after the next two issues, MAD will no longer be publishing original material. Instead, it’ll publish reprinted material until it’s subscription responsibilities are fulfilled and then the magazine will cease publication.

ABC News confirms:

"After issue #10 this fall there will no longer be new content -- except for the end-of-year specials which will always be all new," DC said in a statement to ABC News. "So starting with issue #11 the magazine will feature classic, best-of and nostalgic content from the last 67 years."

... The publication was founded in 1952 by editor Harvey Kurtzman and publisher William Gaines, but it was Al Feldstein, who took over for Kurtzman and led the magazine for almost 30 years, who brought the outlet to national -- and international -- prominence, especially in the 1970s. It peaked at 2.8 million subscribers in 1973, but had just 140,000 left as of 2017.

Read the rest

The strange "No Frills" series of totally generic genre fiction books from the 1980s

The "No Frills" series was a collection of genre fiction paperbacks published by Jove Publishing in 1981 with plain covers, no author names, and maximally pulp plots. From Weird Universe:

Terry Bisson, who was one of the instigators of this project, reports:

Mystery was written by Clark Dimond, a men's mag editor/writer who also wrote for comics. The Romance was written by Judy Coyne (former Glamour mag editor) nee Wederholt The SF was written by John Silbersack, SF editor and now an agent. The Western was by Vic Milan (SF author) We were working on a No-Frills Besteller (by me) and A No-Frills movie (by film critic David Ansen) when the series was dropped. My partner selling the series was Lou Rosetto who went on to found WIRED magazine.

"No Frills Books" (Weird Universe)

More at this old post on Bill Crider's blog: "Forgotten Books -- Mystery" Read the rest

The Digital Public Library of America has re-released the Mueller Report as a well-formatted ebook instead of a crappy PDF

Back in April, Andrew Albanese from Publishers Weekly wrote a column deploring the abysmal formatting in the DoJ's release of the Mueller Report, and publicly requesting that the Digital Public Library of America produce well-formatted ebook editions, which they have now done! Read the rest

Federal lawsuit calls college textbook/ebook packages a "scam"

The Virginia Pirate Corporation is a startup that brokers sales of used textbooks at colleges; they're suing North Charleston, SC's Trident Technical College over its inclusion of textbook fees in tuition, meaning that students will have already paid for new textbooks when they pay their tuition. Read the rest

You can vote in the Children's History Book Prize!

You've got one week to vote in the Children's History Book Prize, whose nominees this year include Out of Left Field by Ellen Klages -- the third book in the Gordon Family Saga, which includes 2009's incomparable White Sands, Red Menace, a book that like a genderswapped, woke Have Spacesuit, Will Travel, with extra helpings of Cold War paranoia and terror, all wrapped up in poetic, Bradburian nostalgia. Read the rest

Kickstarting "Every Day," an anti-gun-violence comics anthology

A collection of comics all-stars (including Scott Snyder, Kelly Thompson, David Lafuente, Ariela Kristiantina, Jamal Igle, Devin Grayson, Joe Keatinge, Doselle Young, Marguerite Sauvage, Ron Marz, Stuart Moore, Shannon Wheeler, Steven Grant, Roger Langridge, Matt Miner, Ray Fawkes, CW Cooke, Alex de Campi, Carla Speed McNeil, Kelly Williams, Emma Beeby and more) come together for Every Day: An Anti-Gun Violence Comics Anthology to benefit The Coalition to Stop Gun Violence and the Community Justice Reform Coalition; $10 gets you a digital download, $20 gets you a paperback, and if you're a retailer, there are bulk-buy packages so you can stock it in your store. (Thanks, Doselle!) Read the rest

Microsoft announces it will shut down ebook program and confiscate its customers' libraries

Microsoft has a DRM-locked ebook store that isn't making enough money, so they're shutting it down and taking away every book that every one of its customers acquired effective July 1. Read the rest

Chinese censors incinerate entire run of a kickstarted Call of Cthulhu RPG sourcebook

Julio writes, "Sons of the Singularity is a small RPG publisher. Last year, they kickstarted The Sassoon Files, a sourcebook for the popular Call of Cthulhu RPG and Trail of Cthulhu RPG. As a lot of publishers, theydid the printing in China. The same day that the print was finished, a Chinese Government decided that it was "problematic", so they burned the entire print run. Targeting foreign publications is a first, specially when it seems there wasn't anything problematic (the supplement was based on Shanghai but was respetful and documented carefully). Will this be a new sign of Beijing tightening its iron grip or just a show of bravado with a small publisher used as an example?" Read the rest

University of California system libraries break off negotiations with Elsevier, will no longer order their journals

Elsevier (previously) is one of the titans of academic and scientific publishing, a wildly profitable and politically potent corporation whose market dominance has allowed it to extract ever-larger sums from the universities whose researchers provide the vast majority of the material it publishes -- material it does not have to pay for, and in some cases, material it charges money to publish. Read the rest

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