The Typesetters, the Proofreaders, and the Scribes

Very interesting post by WebRover, a volunteer at Distributed Proofreaders.

Hot off the Press

scribeAt Distributed Proofreaders, we are all volunteers. We are under no time pressure to proof a certain number of pages, lines or characters. When we check out a page, we can take our careful time to complete it.

We can choose a character-dense page of mind-numbing lists of soldier’s names, ship’s crews, or index pages. We are free to select character-light pages of poetry, children’s tales or plays. Of course these come with their own challenges such as punctuation, dialogue with matching quotes or stage directions. We can pick technical manuals with footnotes, history with side notes, or  science with Latin biology names. We can switch back and forth to chip away at a tedious book interspersed with pages from a comedy or travelogue.

Every so often though, I stop and think about the original typesetters.

They didn’t get to pick their subject material, their deadline or their quota. They…

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Clever Hans

Fascinating and Free!

Hot off the Press

Clever Hans Clever Hans

Can a horse think like a human?

To many people in the early years of the 20th Century, the answer to that question was “Yes!” After all, thousands had seen von Osten’s Russian trotting horse, Clever Hans, use hoof taps and head nods to solve multiplication and division problems, spell out words, name colours, and answer complex questions from a variety of people, even those who had never worked with him before. Sceptics were quickly convinced that what they were seeing was an animal capable of conceptual thought, limited solely by the lack of the ability to speak from taking his place in human society.

In Clever Hans (The Horse of Mr. von Osten), biologist/psychologist Oskar Pfungst disproved popular opinion regarding that clever horse — and, in so doing, created a landmark study in how to apply the experimental method to human and animal behaviour.

What made…

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A Gentleman of France by Stanley Weyman

A Gentleman of France
Being the Memoirs of Gaston de Bonne Sieur de Marsac
by Stanley Weyman




First Chapter/First Paragraph/Tuesday Intros is hosted by Bibliophile By The Sea. To play along, share the first paragraph (or a few) from a book you’re reading or thinking about reading soon.

The death of the Prince of Conde, which occurred in the spring of 1588, by depriving me of my only patron, reduced me to such straits that the winter of that year, which saw the King of Navarre come to spend his Christmas at St. Jean d’Angely, saw also the nadir of my fortunes. I did not know at this time–I may confess it to-day without shame–wither to turn for a gold crown or a new scabbard, and neither had nor discerned any hope of employment. The peace lately patched up at Blois between the King of France and the League persuaded many of the Huguenots that their final ruin was at hand; but it could not fill their exhausted treasury or enable them to put fresh troops into the field.



Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme hosted by Jenn of A Daily Rhythm. Anyone can participate. If you’re new to Teaser Tuesdays, the details are at Jenn’s A Daily Rhythm or on my Tuesday Memes Page.

I think, as we sat our horses in the rain, the holly-bush not being large enough to shelter us all, we were as sorry a band as ever set out to rescue a lady; nor was it without pain that I looked round and saw myself reduced to command such people. There was scarcely one whole unpatched garment among us, and three of my squires had but a spur apiece.


From the Stanley J. Weyman site:

Admired by renowned authors such as Stevenson, Wilde, and Rafael Sabatini, Stanley John Weyman is today a forgotten literary giant of the late 19th century. While for years his best-selling historical romances enchanted thousands of readers, today his books are mostly neglected.

One of his most well known novels was A Gentleman of France, which describes the “grand climacteric of a man’s life”.  Forty-year-old M. de Marsac is in the process of losing his finances and gentleman status. He has been forced to groom his own horse by cover of night and faces ridicule because of his tattered appearance when he goes before the court of Henry of Navarre seeking a commission. . . . . A silent film in 1921 was based on the novel.

For lovers of historical novels, A Gentleman of France (1893) is available free at Project Gutenberg in numerous formats. I’ve heard it described as The Three Musketeers without the tedious bits.

Reading Challenges – 4th Quarter and 2015 Wrap-up




RMFAO 2015 Classics Challenge

With the top level being Level 5: Professor – 12 or more books, this one was a piece of cake for me and was completed during the second quarter. Extras added this quarter:

30. The Rise of Silas Lapham by William Dean Howells
31. Mont Oriol or A romance of Auvergne by Guy de Maupassant
32. Notre Coeur or A Woman’s Pastime by Guy de Maupassant
33. Evan Harrington by George Meredith
34. The Distracted Preacher by Thomas Hardy
35. The Octopus: A Story of California by Frank Norris
36. Diary of a Pilgrimage by Jerome K. Jerome

RMFAO 2015 Genre Challenge

October – Horror (Level 4: Bibliophile – 4 books)
1. Dead Ever After (Sookie Stackhouse #13) by Charlaine Harris
2. A Touch of Dead (collection of the Sookie short stories) by Charlaine Harris
3. After Dead: What Came Next in the World of Sookie Stackhouse by Charlaine Harris
4. Those Who Hunt the Night (James Asher #1) by Barbara Hambly

November – Historical (Level 1: Casual Reader – 1 book)
1. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

December – Adventure/Fantasy (Level 2: Frequent Reader – 2 books)
1. The Martian by Andy Weir
2. Shackleton’s Forgotten Men by Leonard Bickel

A success with at least one book for each genre. February – Crime/Mystery, with eight books read was my biggest month, followed by May – Classics/Literary with seven books.

RMFAO 2015 Series Challenge

The same as Finishing the Series Reading Challenge 2015 below with the addition of:

AMELIA PEABODY series by Elizabeth Peters
18. Tomb of the Golden Bird

A miserable fail! Out of five series I had planned to finish, I only finished one (the Stephanie Plum series shown below).



What An Animal Reading Challenge VIII 2015

Level 2 – Read 7-12

7. Dead Ever After (Sookie Stackhouse #13) by Charlaine Harris
8. The Elegance of the Hedgehog (L’elegance du herisson) by Muriel Barbery
9. Tomb of the Golden Bird (Amelia Peabody #18) by Elizabeth Peters
10. A Bone to Pick (Aurora Teagarden #2) by Charlaine Harris
11. The Octopus: A Story of California by Frank Norris

Completed. Luckily for me, the qualification rules are very broad.

Cruisin’ Thru the Cozies Reading Challenge 2015

Level 4: Sleuth Extraordinaire – Read 20 or more

17. Death of a Liar (Hamish Macbeth #31) by M. C. Beaton
18. Notorious Nineteen (Stephanie Plum #19) by Janet Evanovich
19. Takedown Twenty (Stephanie Plum #20) by Janet Evanovich
20. Top Secret Twenty-One (Stephanie Plum #21) by Janet Evanovich
21. Tomb of the Golden Bird (Amelia Peabody #18) by Elizabeth Peters
22. A Bone to Pick (Aurora Teagarden #2) by Charlaine Harris

Successfully completed and loads of fun doing it!

Finishing the Series Reading Challenge 2015

Level 4: Expert series reader – Complete 4 or more series. A massive failure. It seemed so doable in January, yet I only managed to complete one series. There were seven unread books on the list (eight counting the extra series for the RMFAO Challenge). I blame my failure on getting hooked on Charlaine Harris’ Sookie Stackhouse series and reading nine of them in 2015. They weren’t on the list – but it was worth it as I really enjoyed the series.

Books read this quarter and the only series completed this year:

STEPHANIE PLUM series by Janet Evanovich
19. Notorious Nineteen
20. Takedown Twenty
21. Top Secret Twenty-One



My Kind Of Mystery 2015

February 1, 2015 – January 31, 2016

Level 5: Invisible Floor 41 or more:

33. Roadkill by Kinky Friedman
34. Dead Ever After by Charlaine Harris
35. Death of a Liar by M. C. Beaton
36. Notorious Nineteen by Janet Evanovich
37. Those Who Hunt the Night by Barbara Hambly
38. Takedown Twenty by Janet Evanovich
39. Top Secret Twenty-One by Janet Evanovich
40. Tomb of the Golden Bird by Elizabeth Peters
41. A Bone to Pick by Charlaine Harris

Since this is not a calendar year Challenge, there is still one month to go. But it is already completed, so – success!



My 2015 Goodreads Challenge was 100 books. Success! Completed on the last day of the year.

The Octopus by Frank Norris

The Octopus
A Story of California
by Frank Norris



First Chapter/First Paragraph/Tuesday Intros is hosted by Bibliophile By The Sea. To play along, share the first paragraph (or a few) from a book you’re reading or thinking about reading soon.

Just after passing Caraher’s saloon, on the County Road that ran south from Bonneville, and that divided the Broderson ranch from that of Los Muertos, Presley was suddenly aware of the faint and prolonged blowing of a steam whistle that he knew must come from the railroad shops near the depot at Bonneville. In starting out from the ranch house that morning, he had forgotten his watch, and was now perplexed to know whether the whistle was blowing for twelve or for one o’clock. He hoped the former. Early that morning he had decided to make a long excursion through the neighbouring country, partly on foot and partly on his bicycle, and now noon was come already, and as yet he had hardly started. As he was leaving the house after breakfast, Mrs. Derrick had asked him to go for the mail at Bonneville, and he had not been able to refuse.



Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme hosted by Jenn of A Daily Rhythm. Anyone can participate. If you’re new to Teaser Tuesdays, the details are at Jenn’s A Daily Rhythm or on my Tuesday Memes Page.

When Presley reached Annixter’s ranch house, he found young Annixter himself stretched in his hammock behind the mosquito-bar on the front porch, reading “David Copperfield,” and gorging himself with dried prunes.

Annixter–after the two had exchanged greetings–complained of terrific colics all the preceding night.


The Octopus is the current group read (through January 2) at the 19th Century Literature group. It is available in numerous formats from Project Gutenberg and in audio from LibriVox. Visit Becky’s Books for extras (historical information and related photos).


What are you currently reading?

SWYK! (Share What You Know) – Free eBooks


SWYK! (Share What You Know) is a weekly meme hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. This meme asks you to share 3 tips on one of the topics below, OR 3 tips on a different topic that you know well and feel others would benefit from!

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One of the topics this week is Where to find eBooks online. I’ll be mentioning sites for free eBooks, most of which are in public domain. What a boon for lovers of classic literature.

The first place I always check is Project Gutenberg. I even use their recent additions page as my home page. The main link is for the United States site. If you are in another country, you can check here for further information. Project Gutenberg books are no longer limited to plain text, but are available in a variety of formats to fit any reader or mobile device.

The Online Books Page headed by John Mark Ockerbloom is a resource I check frequently. Mary Mark Ockerbloom brings us A Celebration of Women Writers.

A third option is ManyBooks.

There are too many more to list, but this highlights the largest and user-friendly ones I’ve found.


Why stop here? As an added bonus, AUDIO BOOKS are available. If you enjoy listening to books, don’t miss exploring LibriVox.

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What are your favorite sites for free eBooks? Do you have any other sites to share with us?

Public Domain Day 2015: Ending our own enclosures


Thank you to John Mark Ockerbloom and The Online Books Page!


Everybody's Libraries

It’s the start of the new year, which, as many of my readers know, marks another Public Domain Day, when a year’s worth of creative work becomes free for anyone to use in many countries.

In countries where copyrights have been extended to life plus 70 years, works by people like Piet Mondrian, Edith Durham, Glenn Miller, and Ethel Lina White enter the public domain.  In countries that have resisted ongoing efforts to extend copyrights past life + 50 years, 2015 sees works by people like Flannery O’Connor, E. J. Pratt, Ian Fleming, Rachel Carson, and T. H. White enter the public domain. And in the US, once again no published works enter the public domain due to an ongoing freeze in copyright expirations (though some well-known works might have if we still had the copyright laws in effect when they were…

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Public Domain Day 2014: The fight for the public domain is on now

Everybody's Libraries

New Years’ Day is upon us again, and with it, the return of Public Domain Day, which I’m happy to see has become a regular celebration in many places over the last few years.  (I’ve observed it here since 2008.)  In Europe, the Open Knowledge Foundation gives us a “class picture” of authors who died in 1943, and whose works are now entering the public domain there and in other “life+70 years” countries.  Meanwhile, countries that still hold to the Berne Convention’s “life+50 years” copyright term, including Canada, Japan, and New Zealand, and many others, get the works of authors who died in 1963.  (The Open Knowledge Foundation also has highlights for those countries, where Narnia/Brave-New-World/purloined-plums crossover fanfic is now completely legal.)  And Duke’s Center for the Study of the Public Domain laments that, for the 16th straight year, the US gets no more published works…

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50,000 online book and serial catalog records released as CC0

This was one of the first and the best resource I found for locating etexts and I still use it.

Everybody's Libraries

What a difference a few years can make.  A few years ago, folks in the library world (myself included) were arguing about whether it was a good idea to let other people copy and build on their catalog records.  Whether or not libraries could or should reuse and redistribute records from WorldCat, for example, was up in the air.  Some of us were starting to take small steps towards putting catalog records under open licenses.  For instance, I licensed the catalog records I created for The Online Books Page under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license some years back.  At the time, that was farther than many library projects were willing to go.

By now, though, there’s been a definite shift towards wider and more common opening up of bibliographic records.  Large libraries like the German National Library and Harvard have released millions of the MARC records into the public domain. …

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