Not much seen anymore, a catchword is a word printed at the bottom right hand corner of a recto page just below the last line of text. It duplicates the word at the start of the next page, and was placed there to enable someone reading the book out loud to turn the page without any hesitation in the flow of their recitation. Now that we all read our books silently we don’t need to care about performance values.

This example comes from La congiura del conte Giovanni Luigi de Fieschi printed in the 1620s in Antwerp.

Folger 197208. From the Folger blog The Collation.















I wonder if catchwords are ever found in children’s books, the one category of book which does still regularly get read aloud. I wouldn’t be surprised if catchwords featured in lectern Bibles, but I can’t find a photograph confirming this, and it’s been almost 60 years since I last had to read the lesson.

The term can also refer to a heading in a text, a catch line. It can also substitute for catch phrase with the meaning of a briefly popular expression. In the sense of a desirable attainment, a “catch”, Sir Walter Scott refers in St Ronan’s Well to a catch-match “She made out her catch-match, and she was miserable”.


Not sure I find any of these suggestions (from The Peabody Institute, via The Digital Reader, and E-Book Friendly) very helpful. But there you are. “Don’t finish” is all well and good, but I find it really hard to do; plus I always worry that it might become habit-forming.

In the end, if you don’t want to do it, you won’t do it.

“Oh the irony” Mashable headlines its story on Amazon’s filing a patent for a way to block on-line in-store price comparison. Irony I guess, though I suspect bare-faced audacity might be closer to the mark. I bet filing the patent is more a matter of preempting the opposition than of protecting their own bricks-and-mortar world.

Maybe Amazon doesn’t want you checking alternative prices on-line while you’re in their stores, but you can be sure they find this practice an altogether more attractive idea when it’s being done in someone else’s shop and it’s Amazon’s price which is being looked up. Is it just too “conspiracy-theory” to suspect that they are really trying to lock up the technology in order to prevent others from coming up with a means of preventing their own customers from checking prices at

And hey, why not? If you have all the money in the world, what are you supposed to do? Not spend it?

Though I’ve never seen this before one sees how it could happen.

Perhaps surprisingly for a German book my hardback copy of Johann Peter Eckermann: Gespräche mit Goethe in den letzten Jahren seines Lebens is rather a cheap production. It comes from the second printing which took place in 1984 at the Karl-Marx-Werk, Graphischer Großbetrieb, Pößneck, in Thuringia, appropriately not far from Weimar  (35 miles) in the German Democratic Republic as it still was then. It is printed on a groundwood sheet (you can see it yellowing around the edges) and is perfect bound — something we have always assumed no German publisher would ever do to a hardback. No doubt C. H. Beck of Munich found this almost 900 page book difficult to price, so cut the necessary corners, though the book is bound in a nice bit of blue cloth. The print works is still there in Pößneck, now discretely renamed GGP Media, short for Graphischer Großbetrieb Pößneck which is what it was first called when it abandoned its connection with the great man.

That little scrap of paper sticking up is bound into the perfect binding. It’s the bottom right hand corner of the page behind it — I guess the next person got a copy lacking that bit, while I get to enjoy it twice.

Why does the peer reviewer need a monument? Why in Moscow? Why outside the Higher School of Economics? Why carrying the inscriptions “Accept”, “Minor Changes”, “Major Changes”, “Revise and Resubmit”, “Reject”? The answer apparently — because it was there. (It being the block on the left.)

Nature has an account of the monument’s origin.

The picture shows Ivan Chirikov who came up with the plan and raised $2,500 to realize it. The concrete cube, which was perviously just in the way, has also been carved with the titles of 21 papers. These are papers written by the largest donors, who are thus immortalized in return for their generosity. Now they too* may cry “Si monumentum requiris, circumspice“. Of course, given the monument’s location, maybe this should be said in Russian. Fortunately Pushkin stands ready with his riff on Horace’s take on the topic:

Exegi monumentum

Я памятник себе воздвиг нерукотворный,
К нему не заростет народная тропа,
Вознесся выше он главою непокорной
        Александрийского столпа.
Нет, весь я не умру — душа в заветной лире
Мой прах переживет и тленья убежит —
И славен буду я, доколь в подлунном мире
        Жив будет хоть один пиит.
Слух обо мне пройдет по всей Руси великой,
И назовет меня всяк сущий в ней язык,
И гордый внук славян, и финн, и ныне дикой
        Тунгуз, и друг степей калмык.
И долго буду тем любезен я народу,
Что чувства добрые я лирой пробуждал,
Что в мой жестокой век восславил я Свободу
        И милость к падшим призывал.
Веленью божию, о муза, будь послушна,
Обиды не страшась, не требуя венца,
Хвалу и клевету приемли равнодушно,

        И не оспаривай глупца.

I’ve reared a monument not built by human hands.
The public path to it cannot be overgrown.
With insubmissive head far loftier it stands
               Than Alexander’s columned stone.
No, I shall not all die. My soul in hallowed berth
Of art shall brave decay and from my dust take wing,
And I shall be renowned whilst on this mortal earth
               Even one poet lives to sing.
Tidings of me shall spread through all the realm of Rus
And every tribe in Her shall name me as they speak:
The haughty western Pole, the east’s untamed Tungus,
               North Finns and the south steppe’s Kalmyk.
And long shall I a man dear to the people be
For how my lyre once quickened kindly sentiment,
I in a tyrant age who sang of liberty,
               And mercy toward fallen men.
To God and his commands pay Thou good heed, O Muse.
To praise and slander both be nonchalant and cool.
Demand no laureate’s wreath, think nothing of abuse,
               And never argue with a fool.

Translation by A. Z. Foreman at Poems Found in Translation.

Here’s Nabokov reading the poem in another translation.

Pushkin was of course paying tribute to Horace’s Exegi monumentum, which for good measure here follows with a translation from the site Lost in translation.

Horace, Ode 3.30.

Exegi monumentum aere perennnius
regalique situ pyramidum altius,
quod non imber edax, non Aquilo impotens
possit diruere aut innumerabilis
annorum series et fuga temporum.
Non omnis moriar multaque pars mei
vitabit Libitinam; usque ego postera
crescam laude recens. Dum Capitolium
scandet cum tacita virgine pontifex,
dicar, qua violens obstrepit Aufidus
et qua pauper aquae Daunus agrestium
regnavit populorum, ex humili potens,
princeps Aeolium carmen ad Italos
deduxisse modos. Sume superbiam
quaesitam meritis et mihi Delphica
lauro cinge volens, Melpomene, comam.
I have finished a monument more lasting than bronze
and higher than the royal structure of the pyramids,
which neither the destructive rain, nor wild Aquilo
is able to destroy, nor the countless
series of years and flight of ages.
I will not wholly die and a great part of me
will avoid Libitina; I will continuously arise
fresh with later praise. While a priest will climb
the Capitoline with a silent maiden,
I shall be spoken of where the violent Aufidus roars
and where Daunus, poor in water, ruled
a rural people, powerful from humble origin,
the first to have brought Aeolic song to
Italian meters. Accept the proud honor
obtained by your merits and with the Delphic
laural, Melpomene, gladly encircle my hair.

I guess we’ve strayed quite a long way from a concrete block abandoned in a Moscow park. Enough already.

* This is the inscription on Sir Christopher Wren’s monument in St Paul’s Cathedral.


The question of whether the monkey who took a selfie can or cannot own the copyright, which I alluded to in a post a couple of years ago, incredibly rumbles on. It now seems that his “next friends” are still suing to claim the macaque’s ownership of the picture which he took on the camera of British photographer David Slater. Techdirt, via The Digital Reader, recounts the farce.

The idea that a monkey, even one with a real name now listed in court documents, can own copyright is surely nonsense and the fact that such a suit is being brought just goes to show the power of money (which significantly only differs by one one letter from monkey, a character well known in connection with business) to motivate apparently respectable lawyers to make apparently stupid arguments. I guess you can’t criticize the Ninth Circuit for giving it a Case Number — there it is. They have to judge what comes before them I guess.

That  infinite monkey we’ve all heard about who’s sitting around trying to type the complete works of Shakespeare by randomly pecking at a keyboard will no doubt be given a boost when he hears of this suit. Are copyright riches awaiting the completion of his random task? And if monkeys, why not robots?

As Thrym & Ellen point out at the start of their post Stellar Book Jacket, Jan Tschichold advised against putting anything meaningful on those disposable pieces of advertising, book jackets. Fair enough: I’ve advised the same policy with regard to endpapers. Thrym and Ellen have however come up with a cunning counter example.

This star chart is the folded-out jacket of The Stars: A New Way to See Them by H. A. Rey. You can see the folds for the flaps at the top and the bottom of the picture. Unsurprisingly the spine area has taken the most damage. Rey (born Hans Augusto Reyersbach) was half, with his wife Margaret, of the team which brought us the original Curious George. They wrote the first six volumes of what has become almost a publishing industry of its own. You can see at the link above that the jacket also gave you a horizon chart before you unfolded it completely.

The book is still in print, though no doubt the fold-out jacket has been abandoned along the way. A second-hand version of the 1952 1st edition is available at Amazon for $75.00. The condition of the dust jacket, which apparently carries the original piece of $4 is described as “Very good”. Go for it: you’ll never see a more thoroughly functional jacket.

Jenifer Wightman is trying to get an addendum, adding scientific information to the account of the creation, into all 48 surviving Gutenberg Bibles. Pacific Standard has the story (sent via Literary Hub). Her blog recounts various “installations” of the addendum.

The addendum can be seen in this photo from Ms Wightman’s blog, in situ in the Cambridge University Library’s copy of Gutenberg’s Bible.

Here is a copy of the sheet from Ms Wightman’s site which you can click on and enlarge.


I’m not altogether clear why libraries are agreeing to this. If Gutenberg’s Bibles need to have this addition what about the millions of other Bibles lying around here and there?

The accounts lay stress on the use of letterpress printing and a version of Gutenberg’s Textura typeface, which is oddly just used in the red printing — the red letters in the original were hand written by scribes. I find it inexplicable that this sort of quest for quasi-authenticity should be accompanied by a casual decision to set the body text in an unattractive sans serif type.

Is this in fact just a bit of conceptual/performance art? See Ms. Wightman’s blog for the performance.


Photo: Cambridge News

Cutting-edge as ever, the University of Cambridge has just announced the first LEGO Professor of Play in Education. The Cambridge News story was sent to us via Publishing Cambridge.

Professor Ramchandani looks like he’s ready to have fun.

Does this mean we should look for more translations into LEGO?

Subway library is introduced at The Digital Reader.

I haven’t seen this elaborately decorated train I’m afraid. It lives on the E and F lines. As the NYPL’s site announces you can win prizes by taking a photo of the Library Train.

In so far as the books you are borrowing come from the library you’d think there’d be no reason why you needed to be restricted to the titles on offer at the Subway Library website. In fact, although basic access  is via TransitWirelessWiFi, you can download Simply E, the NYPL’s app which will give you access to the library’s entire ebook collection. The app has sections for books in Spanish, Chinese, Russian, and “other languages”. You will need an NYC library card to use the app of course.