Archive for the ‘quotes’ Category

Tuesday, September 2nd, 2008

Quotations, Epigraphs and Blurbers

I’ve added three fields to Common Knowledge, fun fields that should keep the more obsessive of us busy for a while, and which move us somewhat closer to being the “IMDB of books”—quotations, epigraphs and blurbers.

Quotations. Members have been wanting a place to stick interesting or important quotations for some time, often keeping them in their quotations field.

There are, of course, sites devoted to literary quotes. But none can match their quotes against the books in your own library, giving you more incentive to add them. Together with first and last words, added recently, I foresee all manner of fun applications—guessing games blog widgets that cycle through quotes from your library, etc.

Example: The Stars my Destination (Tiger! Tiger!) by Alfred Bester

Epigraphs. Users asked for this to be separated from quotations.

Example: I am in an epigraph free-room. Help!

Blurbers. If you’re not in publishing, you may be unfamiliar with this term. A blurber is someone who blurbs your book, writing up a very short review for your publisher, who selects a sentence or two and puts it on the back cover. If/when your book goes into paperback or gets reprinted, the blurbs may be replaced by quotes from professional reviewers, or they may not.

Often labeled “Advanced Praise for” or something like that, blurbs are an essential part of the authorial economy, and not always a pretty part, as Rebecca Johnson wrote in Slate:

“So much of blurbing process is a corrupt quid pro quo. You praise my book; I’ll praise yours. In the ’80s, Spy magazine ran a monthly column on the very topic called ‘Log Rolling in Our Time.'”

I’m looking forward to seeing this information develop. It’s well known that blurb relationships are reciprocal, and that some people write blurbs for more books than–it seems–they could ever read.

Example: Hidden Iran by Ray Takeyh, with the ubiquitous Fareed Zakaria and Zbibniew Brzeznski.

Labels: blurbers, blurbs, new features, quotes

Monday, August 11th, 2008

First and last words

“Some years ago there was in the city of York a society of magicians.”

Recognize that sentence? It is, of course, from Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke. How about?

“Now, what I want is, Facts.”

That’s from Dickens, Hard Times.

We just introduced new work-based Common Knowledge fields for “First words” and “Last words.” In the medium-to-long term, I’d love to work the data into a game—pick the sentence that goes with the work. If you’re not comparing computer manuals to novels, it can be hard.

Find out more here.

Labels: common knowledge, new features, quotes