Bookmobile with an Italian accent

UNA NUOVA INIZIATIVA PER LA DIFFUSIONE DEL LIBRO proclaims the title at the top of the photo, or, in English, A New Initiative for Distributing Books.

The early 1920s bookmobile was actually publisher’s method of selling books to the public, not a library’s program to get books to more citizens. Treves, in the photo’s caption, refers to Emilio Treves (1834-1916), the founder, editor, and publisher of L’Illustrazione Italiana. This publisher/bookseller model for book mobiles seems to have been a mostly Italian phenomenon not found here in North America.


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As above, So below

Dutch artist and printmaker Jaco Putker uses both traditional and digital methods to produce his surreal images. He usually works with photopolymer, or solar plate, etching. This allows him to create photo-realistic depictions. His finished pieces are at once amusing and disturbing.

The Hague-based artist avoids any over interpretation of what his images mean. Even the titles provide few clues, as they are basic descriptive statements like The Girl and The Mushrooms or The Boy and The Masks.

I’m interested in the Hermetic Principles of Correspondence (formulated in the axiom ‘As Above, So Below’; the correlation between macro and micro cosmos) and of Vibration (which states that all is in constant motion. Both in a visually perceivable manner as on a (sub)atomic level. Every part of nature is connected to any other part of nature. These seem to be the parameters within which my work takes place. But within these parameters, I try not to think too much about my work. Defining it sort of kills it for me. In hindsight, I see a development and recurring themes and elements. And it strikes me that I seem to be saying the same thing over and over, regardless of style, medium or technique.


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Conquest of Mars

Here is copy number 55 of the first edition of Edison’s Conquest of Mars by Garrett P. Serviss. There were only 1,500 copies in the first edition, and only 1,450 of those were offered for general distribution. Serviss, an astronomer, wrote Conquest in 1898; It was published serially in the New York Journal. This edition was published in 1947, and is the first time the entire serial publication appeared in one volume. The protagonist of Conquest is Thomas Edison, who leads a group of scientists attempting to defend earth against martians. The fantastic cover was done by Russell Swanson, and the equally captivating interior illustrations by Bernard Manley Jr. This is a terrific piece of science fiction history.

Serviss, Garrett P. Edison’s Conquest of Mars. Carcosa House. Los Angeles: 1947. Cover by Russell Swanson. Illustrations by Bernard Manley, Jr.


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How to help indie bookshops survive

The new coronavirus presents a real challenge to bookstores. Here are some ways you can help keep your local bookstore open—during the pandemic and after—without leaving home.

 1.  Pre-Order Books Online

It’s likely that you know a book you want is being released in the coming weeks or montths, so ordering it during a downturn doesn’t cost you any more than you planned to spend, and paying now gives the store cash when they need it.

2. Order More Than What’s on Our Shelves

Many indies can actually have books shipped directly to you from a warehouse.  The other advantage to warehouse fulfillment is booksellers can process these orders from home. They just need to click a button.

3. Listen to Digital Audiobooks Through

Many indie bookstores sell digital audiobooks through You can purchase single audiobooks or get a monthly membership. The files are DRM-free so you actually own them. Libro pays quarterly which can be a challenge for stores, but digital audiobooks represent cash coming in that no one needs to leave the house for.

4. Buy E-books

Many bookstores sell e-books, which are another great “nobody has to touch anything” source of income.

5. Buy a Gift Card

Even if don’t have anything you want to buy now, but still want to support the store. Buy a gift card online. Think of this as a no-interest loan that will give the store income when they need it.

6. Stock Up Now

Most of us have a serious “to be read” pile, but adding a few more books won’t hurt. After all, books are shelf-stable products that last for centuries.


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Unreal City

I rarely post music videos, but I’m a fan of M.Ward, Clémence Poésy (ever since her role as Elise Wasserman in “The Tunnel”), and of course Paris. Filmed on the streets of Paris, the Beatrice Pegard-directed video for M. Ward’s latest release, “Unreal City,” brings the essence of New Wave cinema into the 21st century. Clémence Poésy stars in the love song to the city.“Unreal City” appears in advance of M. Ward’s forthcoming album, Migration Stories, recorded at Arcade Fire’s Montreal studios.

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but oh the museums

At the End of the Endless Decade

Mark Bibbins
For years had anyone needed me
to spell the word commiserateI’d have disappointed them. I envy
people who are more excitedby etymology than I am, but not
the ones who can explain howmusic works—I wonder whether
the critic who wrotethat the Cocteau Twins were the voice
of god still believes it. Why not,what else would god sound like.
Even though I know better, when I see

the word misericordia I still think
suffering, not forgiveness;

when we commiserate we are united
not in mercy but in misery,

so let’s go ahead and call this abscess
of history the Great Commiseration.

The difference
between affliction and affection

is a flick, a lick—but check
again, what lurks in the letters

is “lie,” and what kind of luck
is that. As the years pile up

our friends become more vocal
about their various damages:

Won’t you let me monetize
your affliction, says my friend

the corporation. When I try to enter
the name of any city

it autocorrects to Forever:
I’m spending a week in Forever,

Forever was hotter than ever
this year, Forever’s expensive

but oh the museums,
and all of its misery’s ours.

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Free Books (really)

h/t to Stanislav and Milen for the extensive links


  • Classic Bookshelf: This site has put classic novels online, from Charles Dickens to Charlotte Bronte.
  • The Online Books Page: The University of Pennsylvania hosts this book search and database.
  • Project Gutenberg: This famous site has over 27,000 free books online.
  • Page by Page Books: Find books by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and H.G. Wells, as well as speeches from George W. Bush on this site.
  • Classic Book Library: Genres here include historical fiction, history, science fiction, mystery, romance and children’s literature, but they’re all classics.
  • Classic Reader: Here you can read Shakespeare, young adult fiction and more.
  • Read Print: From George Orwell to Alexandre Dumas to George Eliot to Charles Darwin, this online library is stocked with the best classics.
  • Planet eBook: Download free classic literature titles here, from Dostoevsky to D.H. Lawrence to Joseph Conrad.
  • The Spectator Project: Montclair State University’s project features full-text, online versions of The Spectator and The Tatler.
  • Bibliomania: This site has more than 2,000 classic texts, plus study guides and reference books.
  • Online Library of Literature: Find full and unabridged texts of classic literature, including the Bronte sisters, Mark Twain and more.
  • Bartleby: Bartleby has much more than just the classics, but its collection of anthologies and other important novels made it famous.
  • has a huge selection of novels, including works by Lewis Carroll, Willa Cather, Sherwood Anderson, Flaubert, George Eliot, F. Scott Fitzgerald and others.
  • Free Classic Literature: Find British authors like Shakespeare and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, plus other authors like Jules Verne, Mark Twain, and more.




  • byGosh: Find free illustrated children’s books and stories here.
  • Munseys: Munseys has nearly 2,000 children’s titles, plus books about religion, biographies and more.
  • International Children’s Digital Library: Find award-winning books and search by categories like age group, make believe books, true books or picture books.
  • Lookybook: Access children’s picture books here.



  • Here you can read plays by Chekhov, Thomas Hardy, Ben Jonson, Shakespeare, Edgar Allan Poe and others.
  • Plays: Read Pygmalion, Uncle Vanya or The Playboy of the Western World here.
  • The Complete Works of William Shakespeare: MIT has made available all of Shakespeare’s comedies, tragedies, and histories.
  • Plays Online: This site catalogs “all the plays [they] know about that are available in full text versions online for free.”
  • ProPlay: This site has children’s plays, comedies, dramas and musicals.




  • LibriVox: LibriVox has a good selection of historical fiction.
  • The Perseus Project: Tufts’ Perseus Digital Library features titles from Ancient Rome and Greece, published in English and original languages.
  • Access Genealogy: Find literature about Native American history, the Scotch-Irish immigration in the 19th and 20th centuries, and more.
  • Free History Books: This collection features U.S. history books, including works by Paul Jennings, Sarah Morgan Dawson, Josiah Quincy and others.
  • Most Popular History Books: Free titles include Seven Days and Seven Nights by Alexander Szegedy and Autobiography of a Female Slave by Martha G. Browne.


  • Questia: Questia has 5,000 books available for free, including rare books and classics.


  • Books-On-Line: This large collection includes movie scripts, newer works, cookbooks and more.
  • Chest of Books: This site has a wide range of free books, including gardening and cooking books, home improvement books, craft and hobby books, art books and more.
  • Free e-Books: Find titles related to beauty and fashion, games, health, drama and more.
  • 2020ok: Categories here include art, graphic design, performing arts, ethnic and national, careers, business and a lot more.
  • Free Art Books: Find artist books and art books in PDF format here.
  • Free Web design books: directs you to free web design books.
  • Free Music Books: Find sheet music, lyrics and books about music here.
  • Free Fashion Books: Costume and fashion books are linked to the Google Books page.


  • MysteryNet: Read free short mystery stories on this site.
  • Read books by Edgar Allan Poe, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, GK Chesterton and other mystery writers here.
  • Mystery Books: Read books by Sue Grafton and others.


  • The Literature Network: This site features forums, a copy of The King James Bible, and over 3,000 short stories and poems.
  • Poetry: This list includes “The Raven,” “O Captain! My Captain!” and “The Ballad of Bonnie and Clyde.”
  • Poem Hunter: Find free poems, lyrics and quotations on this site.
  • Famous Poetry Online: Read limericks, love poetry, and poems by Robert Browning, Emily Dickinson, John Donne, Lord Byron and others.
  • Google Poetry: Google Books has a large selection of poetry, fromThe Canterbury Tales to Beowulf to Walt Whitman.
  • Read poems by Maya Angelou, William Blake, Sylvia Plath and more.
  • Rudyard Kipling, Allen Ginsberg and Alfred Lord Tennyson are all featured here.
  • On this site, you can download free poetry ebooks.


  • Banned Books: Here you can follow links of banned books to their full text online.
  • World eBook Library: This monstrous collection includes classics, encyclopedias, children’s books and a lot more.
  • DailyLit: DailyLit has everything from Moby Dick to the recent phenomenon, Skinny Bitch.
  • A Celebration of Women Writers: The University of Pennsylvania’s page for women writers includes Newbery winners.
  • Free Online Novels: These novels are fully online and range from romance to religious fiction to historical fiction.
  • Download mysteries and other books for your iPhone or eBook reader here.
  • Authorama: Books here are pulled from Google Books and more. You’ll find history books, novels and more.
  • Prize-winning books online: Use this directory to connect to full-text copies of Newbery winners, Nobel Prize winners and Pulitzer winners.
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Making Reading a Religious Experience

A former Russian Orthodox church in Shanghai, China, built in 1932 and long abandoned, has been restored and retro-fitted as a library. Due to requirements placed on the architects by the local Historic Buildings Protection office, no major changes could have been made to the structure. In order to  preserve and highlight the original structure, it was also necessary to remove additions and alterations that had been made after the Communist Revolution.

The design firm decided to recreate a church within the church, using materials that differed from the original, that would leave the walls of the church visible. The silver-plated metal panels were assembled together, simulating the bulk of the apse of the church, so that they could be used as shelving for books.


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Finding refuge in books

ECHO (Education.Community.Hope.Opportunity) is an organisation dedicated to fostering community and education initiatives in Greek refugee camps. The ECHO Refugee Library is their flagship project. They hope to transform the sites in which they work from places of stagnancy and waiting, to places where dreams and drive remain alive.

ECHO began in the context of the closure of Greece’s northern border, leaving over 60,000 refugees stranded in limbo. 17 months into their wait in Greece, many still faced 3-12 more months before being relocated (and for many, reunited with their families) to another European country. Others, without that option open to them, were left to wait for their asylum claims to be accepted and their status recognized. ECHO Refugee Library was a means to help people prepare for that next step, and to make use of otherwise wasted time.

The reality today, though in many ways different from the context in which they began, is still the same: left in ‘asylum limbo’, lives and futures are on hold. The wait is long, anxiety-ridden, and uncomfortable. During this wait, the task of ‘filling time’ must become that of ‘using time’.These are individuals hungry for action, for work, for education – most are former students, skilled workers, and professionals whose lives have been violently uprooted. Echo hopes to provide them with the know-how they need to carry their experience and knowledge into the next stage of their journeys.Their lives are at a standstill; they need not be.
The aim through ECHO Refugee Library is to nurture a space of learning and creativity, a place to cultivate the mind – that one part of us that can never be held captive. It is a place where goals and ambition can be worked towards, regardless of the grim reality of the present.
In the library spaces, they provide the following:
-Books and a quiet reading space
-Access to online learning
-Language learning resources
-Informal small group tutoring upon request
-Advice on university and job application processes
-A space to develop community-led creative workshops

To support Echo financially, please donate through Paypal:
For questions and comments, please email:

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We Are The People

Iggy Pop’s video “We Are the People” is based on a poem written in 1970 by the late, great Lou Reed. Of the poem, Pop told the BBC last year, “My God, this is the country today as I understand it, or at least one legitimate portrayal of the country today.”  He recently performed “We Are the People” with Reed’s widow Laurie Anderson at Carnegie Hall for the Tibet House Benefit .


[Verse 1]
We are the people without land
We are the people without tradition
We are the people who do not know how to die peacefully and at ease
We are the thoughts of sorrows
Endings of tomorrows
We are the wisps of rulers
And the jokers of kings

[Verse 2]
We are the people without right
We are the people who have known only lies and desperation
We are the people without a country, a voice, or a mirror
We are the crystal gaze returned through the density and immensity of a berzerk nation
We are the victims of the untold manifesto of the lack of depth
Of full and heavy emptiness

[Verse 3]
We are the people without sorrow
Who have moved beyond national pride and indifference
To a parody of instinct
We are the people who are desperate
Beyond emotion because it defies thought
We are the people who conceive our destruction and carry it out lawfully
We are the insects of someone else’s thought
A casualty of daytime, nighttime, space, and God
Without race, nationality, or religion
We are the people, and the people, the people

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