Curious Rat

Sylvia Beach vs. Censorship in the 1920s →

Sylvia Beach, proprietor of the famous Shakespeare and Company bookstore in Paris, was the first to publish James Joyce’s Ulysses at a time when no mainstream publisher would:

In 1922, Sylvia remarkably and single-handedly published Joyce’s epic tome. He was notorious for working until the end, trashing printer proofs by adding huge amounts of text and working on his novels and stories up to the very last minute. While other publishers turned their backs on Joyce’s genius, Beach chased it—and like a good entrepreneur, risked everything in order to afford its printing.

Unfortunately for Beach, the risk did not pay off when Joyce eventually sold the rights to the book to Random House in the 1930s and failed to pass any of his advance on to her.

Baron Fig Apprentice →

Baron Fig, makers of the Confidant notebook, have a new product out called the Apprentice. It’s a pocket notebook that sets itself apart from the competition in one special way:

We’re treating an analog product like a tech one—by continuously taking feedback and iterating the design. The community shapes the product.

They come three to a pack for $9.

Rare Footage of Django Reinhardt and Stéphane Grappelli →

ᔥ Open Culture:

Reinhardt and jazz violinist Stéphane Grappelli founded the Quintette du Hot Club de France in 1934, and in the forties, Reinhardt began composing, and toured England, Switzerland, and the U.S. as a soloist with Duke Ellington’s band. He recorded his final album, Djangology in 1949, retired in 51, and died in 53, already a legend, “one of the few European musicians to exert a serious influence on the American art form of jazz,” writes an NPR “Weekend Edition” profile.

As stated in the Open Culture article, Reinhardt played a role (not literally) in one of my favorite Woody Allen films, Sweet and Lowdown. Gypsy jazz also had a hand in what may be my favorite Allen film, Midnight in Paris, in the form of the piece “Bistro Fada” by Stephane Wrembel. A live rendition of the song can be heard below.

I Wrote a Novel By Hand →

I wrote a piece today for The Cramped about writing my third novel, LUMINOUS. I wrote the whole first draft with nothing but pen and paper. It was a process. I have the hand cramps to prove it.

The biggest thrill came from watching the back of the notebook get thinner. I use Scrivener‘s word goal tool religiously, but a meter turning from red to green doesn’t have the same effect as holding a stack of pages in my hands and saying, “I did this.”

Hope you enjoy it!

Young Readers Prefer Paper to Ebooks →

ᔥ The Bookseller:

The 16-24 generation is still firmly in favour of print books, new research shows, with 73% saying they prefer print over digital or audio formats.

Exclusive research conducted by Voxburner for The Bookseller showed that while nearly three-quarters of young people said they prefer the print form, only 27% prefer e-books and 31% said they don’t buy e-books at all.

The survey questioned more than 900 young people in the UK about their book habits.

Not sure what the stats are in the U.S., but I wouldn’t be surprised if they were similar. The reason?

“They told us they like to touch books and see the creases in the spine, but for bargain-driven young people the conversion to e-books will most likely be determined by price.”

That first part threw me because I thought kids didn’t care so much for the tactile experience of books. However, based on my limited anecdata from BookCon, it was clear paper books had wide appeal—easier for authors to sign, no up-front cost of a dedicated reader or tablet, and easily lendable to friends. In fact, I see kids reading paper books on the subway every day while the adults read on Kindles and iPads.


When it comes to paperbacks, 37% of young people said they would pay £5.00-£7.00 and 35% said they would pay £3.00-£5.00. However, they are less willing to pay as much for e-books, with 43% saying they should cost less than £3.00 and 27% saying they should cost between £3.00 and £5.00.

Many young readers didn’t agree with spending more than a few dollars on an ebook, so for the money, paper books held more value, and since 81% of respondents paid for their own books, they felt their money was better spent on something tangible. Something they truly owned.

One look at who they named as their favorite novelists and it’s clear they weren’t just going to buy $.99 ebooks by unknown indie novelists. These kids were deep into traditionally published authors, like JK Rowling and Nicholas Sparks.

This isn’t an “ah HA!” or “gotcha!” moment for me just because I’m a personal fan of paper over digital, but it certainly made me go, “huh.”