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William Styron and Other Critics of Formal Education

By Matt Reimann. Jun 10, 2015. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Literature, Learn About Books

At first thought, it seems ludicrous that any author — any person who depends on lovers of books and knowledge, really — would condemn formal education. In an age when more and more authors are cultivated in an MFA program, you'd assume to find only champions of education. After all, Michael Chabon, Jonathan Safran Foer, and Flannery O’Connor all passed through an MFA program, and plenty more, like Zadie Smith and Joyce Carol Oates, have taught in one. Despite the firm bond between writers and academic institutions, there are some authors who can’t help but criticize formal education.

     
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Small Publishers - Champions of Classic, Strange, and Fine Press Books

By Ben Keefe. Mar 25, 2015. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Fine Press, Book Making, Learn About Books

Think of your favorite bookstore. Most likely there’s a section in the store labeled “New Releases.” Here you can find titles from authors that any casual reader will recognize: James Patterson, Stephen King, Janet Evanovich. These books are produced and promoted by their publishing companies which are, especially in the case of those three, very recognizable. However, there is a sea of smaller publishers whose books are worthy of the same limelight. These lesser-known companies produce beautifully bound books, forgotten gems and off-the-beaten-path novels. Here is a selection of small publishers that care passionately about books and often express that love in unique and interesting ways.

     
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Caring for Rare Books Bound in Vellum

By Matt Reimann. Mar 14, 2015. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Rare Books, Book Care, Learn About Books

Vellum is a printing material which was used as early as 2000 BC. It frequently appears in old, rare books as well as maps, deeds, and other important documents. It is valued for its distinct feel and assumed nobility. Gutenberg printed bibles with it; the Declaration of Independence is written on it; and the UK still prints its Acts of Parliament on vellum for archival purposes. Read on for a brief history of vellum and some insight into vellum preservation best practices.

     
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A Glossary of Book Terms Part II: The Art of the Book

By Katie Behrens. Mar 13, 2015. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Rare Books, Learn About Books

The vocabulary of the rare book world can be daunting, especially for new collectors. In this series of blog posts, we attempt to explain and illustrate some of the basic terminology. Our last post focused on the anatomy of a book; here we turn our attention to printmaking and decorative features. 

     
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An Interview with Rollin Milroy of Heavenly Monkey

By Andrea Koczela. Feb 22, 2015. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Fine Press, Learn About Books, Interviews

An interview with Rollin Milroy, owner and creator of Heavenly Monkey, a remarkable letterpress and binding studio based out of Vancouver. In addition to its many individual followers, the productions of Heavenly Monkey are collected by Yale University, Brigham Young, the University of California, and many other institutions. In the following interview, Rollin shares details about his work, creative process, and plans for Heavenly Monkey. 

     
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A Glossary of Book Terms Part I: The Anatomy of a Book

By Katie Behrens. Feb 12, 2015. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Rare Books, Book Collecting, Learn About Books

If you're just getting into antiquarian or rare book collecting, you may be overwhelmed by the terms and phrases bandied about in item descriptions. What's a frontispiece? What is foxing in books? What's the difference between a galley and an advance reader copy? We hope to shed some light on the jargon of the book trade in a series of glossary posts, starting with the anatomy of a book.

     
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Caring for Handwritten Documents

By Matt Reimann. Jan 5, 2015. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Rare Books, Book Care, Learn About Books

Handwritten documents belong to a special part of a branch of print-collecting called ephemera. The Ephemera Society of the United Kingdom defines such artifacts as "the minor transient documents of everyday life." Ephemera encompass everything from leaflets to tickets to trading cards. There is a particular challenge in the preservation of ephemera, as ephemera are not made to last beyond their brief application. This often means that the materials used are less durable than those of a typical book. Thus, there is a gleeful rebellion in the act of preserving ephemera. While the documents were intended to be discarded, as the collector, it's your duty to ensure it lasts through the ages.

     
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The Pilgrim Press: From Illegal Printing to Thanksgiving

By Leah Dobrinska. Nov 27, 2014. 9:00 AM.

Topics: History, Learn About Books

When I say “pilgrims,” what comes to mind? With Thanksgiving upon us, maybe you’d mention the holiday itself, or turkey and stuffing. Perhaps you would conjure up images of the Mayflower and Plymouth Rock. Maybe some of you would associate the term with a religious sect.

While our understanding of the Pilgrims has been greatly shaped by the legend of Thanksgiving Day and our present customs surrounding the holiday, little attention is given to the real lives of the Pilgrims. They were a people displaced from their homeland for religious views, and as a result of their counter-cultural lifestyle, they faced a harsh reality. But they were steadfast in their beliefs, so much so that they even operated an illegal printing press in order to disseminate their ideas.

     
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Collecting Rare Books FAQ: Ex-Library Copies

If you've taken up rare book collecting, you've probably encountered the phrase “ex-library copy” or seen the shorthand “ex-lib” in a book description. Collectors have varied reactions to the ex-library copy, and it's important to make an informed decision before you add ex-library copies to your own personal library.

     
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Download Free Guides about Rare Book Collecting

Over the last several weeks, the staff at Books Tell You Why have been working hard to create the guides and ebooks requested by you, our readers. When you ask for something, we listen. Through your feedback, we've learned that readers want more than blog posts about rare books and collecting. They want high-quality, in-depth ebooks that they can download and peruse at their leisure. We are happy to announce that we've produced several such guides and they are available to any of our readers free of charge. More are on the way. Don't see what you're looking for? Let us know. Many of our best ideas have come from readers like you.

     
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About this blog

How can I identify a first edition? Where do I learn about caring for books? How should I start collecting? Hear from librarians about amazing collections, learn about historic bindings or printing techniques, get to know other collectors. Whether you are just starting or looking for expert advice, chances are, you'll find something of interest on blogis librorum.

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